Why religious people are happier

Happiness-beach-text

Reports that the latest Office for National Statistics survey seems to confirm what similar ones have already shown: religious people are happier.

 

Over four years, religious people scored their life satisfaction at 7.53 out of 10 and their happiness at 7.38. People with no religion scored their happiness at only 7.22. Compared with other faiths, Christians are mid-table at 7.47; Muslims are only 7.33, while Hindus are a cheerful 7.57.

 

There is a word of caution with interpreting this data though:

The temptation is to argue this proves religion makes you happy and satisfied with life. It’s not so, of course. For one thing, it might not be the content of faith – which all religious adherents would say is pretty important – that matters, but being part of a supportive community, which religions often provide. Another is that it might be happy, cheerful people who naturally like going to the church, or mosque, or gurdwara; if you’re naturally miserable, you’re more likely to stay at home.

Prayers published to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday

Queen

The Church of England has published prayers to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. Two prayers, available in traditional and modern forms, have been written ahead of the monarch’s milestone.

They are intended to be used at events later this year marking the Queen’s birthday on April 21st.  In addition two graces have been published for use as thanksgivings at the start of other celebrations such as street parties.

One of the graces reflects the words used in The Queen’s first Christmas broadcast in 1952, a year in which her father, George VI died and at the end of which she was looking forward to her Coronation, the following year.

Churches are being encouraged to share their plans to mark Her Majesty’s birthday through the Church Care website, which also offers tips and advice on planning events and services and will promote initiatives on a dedicated celebration map and on Twitter through @CofE_ChurchCare using #HMQ90

 

 

Collect – Traditional

Heavenly Father, who hast brought our gracious sovereign Queen Elizabeth to the completion of her ninetieth year, and dost gather her people in celebration of the same: grant that we, rejoicing before thee with thankful hearts, may ever be united in love and service to one another, and her kingdom flourish in prosperity and peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Collect – Modern

Heavenly Father,
as we celebrate the ninetieth birthday of Her Majesty the Queen,
receive our heartfelt thanks
for all that you have given her in these ninety years
and for all that she has given to her people.
Continue, we pray, your loving purposes in her,
and as you gather us together in celebration,
unite us also in love and service to one another;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Graces:

Bountiful God, giver of all good gifts,
we give thanks for the many years and long reign of our Queen;
Bless our food, our neighbourhood,
and our enjoyment of each other’s company.
Help us to learn from Queen Elizabeth’s commitment to her people,
so that our community may be strengthened
and all may flourish.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, the King of love.

 

Gracious God, give our Queen continued wisdom and strength
to carry out the promises she has made;
and bless (this food, and) those who are gathered here,
that, sustained by service for others,
we may faithfully serve you, all the days of our life.

10 predictions about the future Church and shifting attendance patterns

Church Attendance

Carey Nieuwhof the founding pastor of Connexus Church north of Toronto has written an interesting post on 10 predictions about the future Church and shifting attendance patterns:

  1. The potential to gain is still greater than the potential to lose
  2. Churches that love their model more than the mission will die
  3. The gathered church is here to stay
  4. Consumer Christianity will die and a more selfless discipleship will emerge
  5. Sundays will become more about what we give than what we get
  6. Attendance will no longer drive engagement; engagement will drive attendance
  7. Simplified ministries will complement people’s lives, not compete with people’s lives
  8. Online church will supplement the journey but not become the journey
  9. Online church will become more of a front door than a back door
  10. Gatherings will be smaller and larger at the same time

 

Archbishop of Canterbury to lead huge evangelism project

justin-welby

Christian Today is reporting that the Archbishop of Canterbury is to lead the biggest evangelism project in the UK so far this millennium:

Every cathedral, church and clergyman and woman in the land is being urged to share their faith and win new converts to Christianity.

Cathedrals and churches are being urged to set aside the week before Pentecost as a week of prayer for evangelism.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and Dr John Sentamu, are calling cathedrals and other churches to use the week running up to Pentecost Sunday on May 15 to pray for new followers to Christ.

The entire Church is being urged to pray throughout the week for “all Christians to deepen their relationship with Jesus” in order to have “confidence” to share the faith. The aim is for “all to respond to the call of Jesus Christ to follow him.”

The two Archbishops are currently writing to all 11,300 Church of Engand clergy inviting them to “engage” with the project. They are being asked to organise round-the-clock prayer marathons, one-off events and other meetings and gatherings to help towards the evangelisation effort.

Five or six cathedrals will hold “beacon” events with services and events led by both Archbishops and some bishops, evangelical worship leaders such as Matt Redman, Tim Hughes and Martin Smith and in collaboration with 24-7 Prayer.

40 Acts: Do Lent Generously

Lent is usually about ‘giving stuff up’, isn’t it? What if you could add something transformational to the traditional?

40acts is the multi award-winning challenge from Christian charity Stewardship that invites you to do Lent generously.

What if you could give up chocolate and give the money to your favourite charity? What if you could turn the TV off and spend more time helping your neighbour? What if Lent was a preparation for a lifetime of big-heartedness that reflected God’s amazing generosity?

40 Acts encourages you to do one act of generosity each day from February 10th to March 26th 2016. 75,000 people signed up last year to receive the challenges and reflections by email and this year’s sign up is now open. You can also download resources for churches, small groups, families and schools here.

Teenage artists wanted for Group Publishing’s Biblica Bible project

Group, a US based, non-denominational Christian publisher, is partnering with Biblica to produce a New Testament Bible for youth. What will make this Bible unique is the editorial and visual elements featured in this Bible will be created by teenagers.

They are looking for teenage artists to do interpretive illustrations for the introductions to the books of the New Testament. Based on samples submitted by young people, they will select four teenagers who will each illustrate up to six of the Bible introductions.

What they are looking for…

  • Teenagers age 16-19 who love to draw very expressive and interpretive art.
  • The interior of the Bible is 2 color (Black plus another color). So the art will need to be one/two color line art.

What’s in it for the student…

  • Each artist will be given credit in the final printed piece.
  • Their art will be used in marketing efforts to promote the new Bible.
  • Students can include their finished work in their own portfolios as commissioned commercial art.
  • Each student will be given a write-up in one of our blogs promoting them, their art, and their school.
  • Each student will get “real world” experience with an art director and publisher.
  • Each student will receive 5 free copies of the Bible after it’s been printed.
  • Selected student artist will receive a contract for up to 6 illustrations and be paid $99 per illustration completed.

The only requirements for this opportunity…

  • The student must be between the age of 16 and 19 years old.
  • Students selected to work on the project will need to complete all illustrations contracted for in 5 weeks. (We will contact artists directly to determine the number of illustrations they believe they can complete in this time frame.)

Submissions begin now.

  • Students need to submit a sample of their art style to Jeff Storm, Art Director at Group Publishing.
  • Attach 1-2 samples as a .jpg file to an email addressed to jstorm@group.com (please limit attachment size to 5 MB).
  • Please make subject line in email- Biblica Bible illustration submission
  • Include your full name, attach the samples to the email, and let us know a little something about the samples you are sending and why you’d like to be considered for this project.
  • Sample submissions must be received no later than Feb 21, 2016.
  • The selected artists will be notified by Feb 26, 2016
  • The selected artists will have five weeks beginning Feb 29, 2016 to complete the illustrations contracted for.
    Biblica Youth Bible release is scheduled for September 2016.

Click here to download a summary to hand out to young people.

 

What is religious education for?

RE-heart-picture

Nigel Genders, Chief Education Officer for the Church of England has recently blogged on What is religious education for?.  He starts with:

It is tempting to see the primary reasons for good religious education as being combatting extremism and promoting community cohesion. This feeds nicely in to national political and news agendas but by doing this we confuse safeguarding with education, distort the need for a healthy pluralism in society and accept a simplistic narrative that says religion is the cause of most of the world’s problems. The primary purpose of religious education must in fact be to enable young people to make sense of themselves and the world in which they live and from these seeds will grow communities equipped to live well together.

It’s really worth taking a few minutes to read his take on the need for good quality religious education.

 

 

Why the Church is helping children understand how to handle money

Money

The Church of England have blogged on the importance of helping children to understand how to handle money, here’s a few snippets:

A couple of years ago many parishes in the Church of England decided to take some practical steps towards creating a fairer financial system where everyone in the community flourishes. We did this because we believe there’s no division between ‘spiritual’ and ‘non-spiritual’ parts of life. The good news of Jesus Christ is for the whole human being. He wants to see every human being flourish.

 

Working in partnership with Young Enterprise and local credit unions, the scheme encourages children to save small, regular amounts of money. This is combined with teaching resources to help children understand the values that underpin this kind of approach to money. It’s not just teachers; parents, carers and the whole community are encouraged to get involved with children’s financial education.

When I prayed with the children during their assembly yesterday, I prayed especially for those whose households have serious money problems. Where there are such difficulties, it may lead to a whole range of other problems tightening their grip on a family: substance abuse, domestic violence and marital breakdown, among others.

So the way that money is dealt with is about human flourishing at its deepest level – and it is absolutely right that the church is helping to try and break this cycle before it affects another generation. Meanwhile, on a practical level it makes perfect sense for the Church of England, which is involved in the education of a million children around the country, to be using our particular platform to make this contribution.

Go check out the full blog here.

 

 

Discussion starter: Muslim teen cuts off hand to prove faith

Mosque

A couple of weeks ago there were a series of articles about 15 year old Mohammad Anwar.  He was accused of blasphemy after mishearing a question at a mosque, and so went home to cut off his own hand. Since then, he’s become a local hero.

Youthministry.com have written a helpful discussion starter on this for you to use with your youth group reflecting on faith, commitment, and blasphemy.

 

 

Reflections on nearly 40 years of ministry

Sam Storms, the lead pastor for preaching and vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, has written a fascinating blog post reflecting on nearly 40 years of pastoral ministry.

I’m not sure I full subscribe to everything he has written – for example I would fully subscribe to women being fully involved in church leadership.  But there’s a lot of gold in this article – a few highlights that resonated for me:

1. I wish I’d known that people who disagree with me on doctrines I hold dearly can often love God and pursue his glory with as much, and in some cases more, fervency than I do. The sort of intellectual pride that fuels such delusions can be devastating to ministry and will invariably undermine any efforts at broader Christian unity across denominational lines.

3. I wish I’d known how deeply and incessantly many (most?) people suffer. Having been raised in a truly functional family in which everyone knew Christ and loved one another, I was largely oblivious to the pain endured by most people who’ve never known that blessing. For too many years I naively assumed that if I wasn’t hurting, neither were they. I wish I’d realized the pulpit isn’t a place to hide from the problems and pain of one’s congregation; it’s a place to address, commiserate with, and apply God’s Word to them.

6. I wish I’d known how vital it is to understand yourself and to be both realistic and humble regarding what you find. Don’t be afraid to be an introvert or extrovert (or some mix of the two). Be willing to take steps to compensate for your weaknesses by surrounding yourself with people unlike you, who make up for your deficiencies and challenge you in healthy ways to be honest about what you can and cannot do.

10. I wish I’d known about the destructive effects of insecurity in a pastor. This is less because I’ve struggled with it and more due to its effect I’ve seen in others. Why is insecurity so damaging?

 

New Lead Bishop on Safeguarding

Peter Hancock, the Bishop of Bath and WellsThe Church of England has announced that the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, is to be the Church’s new lead Bishop on Safeguarding.

He will succeed the Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, who has carried out the role for the last six years.

Bishop Peter will take up the role after the meeting of the General Synod in July of this year.

Bishop Paul said:

“It has been a deep privilege to lead this work in the Church over the past six years during a time of transformation. The Church of England is making significant strides in its policies, training and resourcing of safeguarding and whilst we can never be complacent I am grateful for the work that has begun. We have a long way to go and there is still much more to be done.

“I am delighted that Bishop Peter will be leading the Church’s work in this area from the summer. I remain committed to working towards us being a safer church and ensuring the Church of England is a place of safety and welcome for all.”

Church of England Communications Update – February 2016

InReview

InReview - Feb 2016February’s edition of InReview, including details about the Archbishop of Yorks’ Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing, Baptism Matters conferences and more, is available here.

InFocus

InFocus - Feb 2016February’s edition of InFocus, including the new Lent study guide from Paula Gooder, Renewal and Reform and more, is available here (a 4-page version is available here).