By Melissa Wuske
Following Christ Without the Church
Ten percent of Americans say they are Christians who love Jesus but don’t attend church, according to a Barna Research study. These believers have attended church in the past but haven’t been in six months.
This group is largely white, female, and part of the Generation X and Baby Boomer generations. They are just as likely to pray as practicing Christians, and 94 percent believe that God is the “all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect creator of the universe who rules the world today,” compared to 85 percent of practicing Christians.
And this group matters. “This group represents an important and growing avenue of ministry for churches,” said Roxanne Stone, editor in chief of Barna Group. “The critical message that churches need to offer this group is a reason for churches to exist at all. What is it that the church can offer their faith that they can’t get on their own? Churches need to be able to say to these people—and to answer for themselves—that there is a unique way you can find God only in church. And that faith does not survive or thrive in solitude.”
What Is a Martyr?
Around the world countless Christians risk hardship and death, but, “There is a huge gray area around the question of ‘martyrs,’” said Frans Veerman, director of Open Doors’ World Watch List.
Religion News Service blogger Tobin Grant summarizes: “[M]odern martyrs do not fit our usual notion of martyrdom. They were not executed for refusing to recant their beliefs. They were not put in the Colosseum for refusing to bow to the emperor. Nor were they rounded up for ‘heresy.’”
“Rebels, for example, often single out Christians because they do not cooperate with malicious plans to expand rebel territory,” said Todd Johnson at Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. “Such Christians, when they are killed as a result of actions springing from their faith, fit our definition of ‘martyrs,’ whether or not those actions were accompanied by explicit proclamations of their faith.”
“When Christians are isolated and denied clean drinking water and medical care because they are Christians and refuse to become Muslims—[and thus] they perish quicker than others—are they martyrs?” asks Veerman. “In a strict sense, they aren’t. But when the whole mechanism behind [their deaths] is studied, we can say they are.”
Bold Goal for Chicago’s Public Schools
Chicago musician Chance the Rapper is on a mission to fund Chicago Public Schools—through the end of the millennium. He’s meeting with funders of all sorts, from the state governor to the Chicago Bulls, who recently donated $1 million. Chance himself will donate $10,000 for every $100,000 donated. In addition to this general fundraising, he’s started the New Chance Arts and Literature Fund to make sure public schools have funding for art education.
No More Dandelion
Anyone who has recently bought a Crayola 24-pack may have noticed something missing: Dandelion. The crayon company announced the retirement of this yellow hue in March. What’s next? Coloring enthusiasts will have to wait and see.
“[I] can share two pieces of new information,” said Melanie Boulden, senior vice president U.S. and global marketing at Crayola. “The first is that the new color will be part of the blue family, and the second is this summer we are going to invoke our fans to name the new color because we want you all to be a part of Crayola history.”
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (melissaannewuske.com).