Many soliders have sacrificed to make America the free country that it is, as well as to bring freedom to many parts of the world. Memorial Day is one day to rememeber that. One place has remembered their sacrifice since 1937, the Tomb of the Unknowns (aka Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. [aside: 41 countries have tombs to unknown soliders] Having seen it first-hand, the ceremonial ritual of remembrance, the sentinel guard marching back and forth, is indeed an “embodiment of order, respect and dignity.”
This past week has been a hard time for my family (of origin) with the passing of my Dad. We’re grateful for the kindness of prayer, comfort, and condolences already expressed and received during the past week. This time has been sad and hard, yet healing and bonding, even transformative for me. And I personally thank you, my online friends and acquaintances, for being a part of my life over the past 12 years.
Tomorrow evening, Wed 5/25, 8:00pm Eastern, my brother Deef and I hosted an online event to share about Dad’s life and legacy, as well as offer a glimpse into caregiving for my Dad during the past 2.5 years. Please join our livestream at ustream.tv/channel/djchuang-live.
Connected with Billy Vo via this video interview, and learned of his spiritual journey and his new work at Seattle Pacific University and its Asian American Ministry Program. [Facebook page]
[watch video over at YouTube]
This June 13-15 in Seattle is the Asian American Ministry Program’s Inaugural Conference. Culture does make a difference in how theology is understood and lived. Theology is not culturally-neutral. This conference is bringing together quite the stellar lineup of Asian American ministry leaders, including: Timothy Tseng, Peter Cha, Charlene Jin Lee, Soong-Chan Rah, Eugene Cho, Ken Fong, Gideon Tsang, Young Lee Hertig, Wayne Ogimachi, Nancy Sugikawa, Paul Kim, Bo Lim, Billy Vo, and more. I’m told it’s more of a regional event, but I see no reason why it can’t be billed as a national event.
By the way, it’s Asian Pacific American heritage month, this month of May, every month of May. Not sure how much of this matters to how many of the 16 million Asian Americans. But I digress…
I love free. I love to give my time and money away for free as an expression of faith, generosity, serving others, loving neighbor, etc etc. There’s a lot of altruism and theological and biblical reasons supporting my practices. And I demonstrate it here on my blog by keeping it advertising-free. [disclaimer: while the blog itself is ad-free, there are ads on the web pages here and affiliate links for some books etc]
So this blog is free to the readers and truly & purely free, brcause it is freely given by me without financial support by 3rd party donations. Its “sustainability” rests on my life, as long as God gives me life and breath, and does not depend on an organization or donors. It does depend on my finding other sources for financial support, since I am not financially independent, and in Christian-jargon, “tentmaking” or maybe akin to “tentblogging” (?).
I’m often confronted with the question of how a non-profit org / ministry / business / higher educational institution could possibly sustain itself if they are giving away its content for free? There are some great orgs that do give away free content, like Desiring God and Lifechurch.tv . What’s confusing and elusive for me is how they can afford to do that, to explain the sustainability question.
I am personally comfortable with the truth of God providing when we serve others well by doing something like free content. But being an ideas-guy, I need help translating that into everyday reality in an organizational context. The answer I’ve heard is that the foundational theology and biblical truth and primary principle is that “God will provide” and we should be generous. So how does that actually work? Seems like overtheologizing and overspiritualizing if that’s all that’s taught and said.
In 1 conversation where I’m asking how their org gives so much away. The guy kept firm on the importance of biblical truth and theology, and yet, that’s where I’m stuck. That answer is NOT helpful. After some tenacious pursuit for the truth behind the truth, the guy finally relented and briefly said that they’re supported by donations from donors. Sigh. Can we be real, please?
Answer: In casual conversations, I’ve heard the following cities mentioned as being among the least churched cities, aka most unchurched cities, in the United States: Seattle, Miami, San Francisco, New York City, Salt Lake City, Portland, Philadelphia, even Reno. Curiously, a comprehensive list wasn’t easy to find using a search phrase like “least churched cities“; a few more results did show using a search on “most unchurched cities“. Here’s what relevant data I could find about the least churched cities and the unchurched:
- The American Church Research Project has a book, DVD, and a bunch of presentations for purchase, including ones for each of the largest 90 metropolitan areas. 10 presentations available for free.
- This list of Church Planting Hotspots (via PCA – Presbyterian Churches in America) and The North American Mission Board (Southern Baptists) have a list of strategic focus cities. AVC (Vineyard) had this 1997 list of hot spots [Word .DOC format].
- Charting the unchurched in America (USA Today, 2002) cites the ARIS – American Religious Identification Survey, which lists the most non-religious states as Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, and Wyoming, surpassing Oregon and Washington. This list is by percentage rather than population count.
- America’s Most Sinful Cities (Forbes Magazine, 2008)
- The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey from Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has some great visuals, maps, and charts.
- Free resources for Contextualization / Demographics from newchurches.com
- “Only 1 percent of the population in the Northeast is Baptist… population centers include New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington. ‘Those cities and the countryside that surrounds them make up “the most unchurched 25 percent of the American population…’ (The most unchurched 25 percent, 2001)
- This student church planters research project in 2006 looked promising, as they set out to produce lists of the most unchurched places.
- Annotated North American Church Planting Bibliography (Updated April 2009, by Ed Stetzer)
The 1000s of church leaders gathering at the Exponential Conference – National New Church Conference (Orlando, April 2010) probably have the answer, the lists, and more data than you can imagine. Until then, we’ll keep on the search.
Can you help? Add a comment and make the the definitive list of the top unchurched cities more available to the masses!
Cities with the largest share of unchurched adults (polled as: had not been to a religious worship service in the last 6 months):
- San Francisco (44%)
- Portland, Maine (43%)
- Portland, Oregon (42%)
- Albany (42%)
- Boston (40%)
- Sacramento (40%)
- Seattle (40%)
- Spokane (39%)
- New York (38%)
- Phoenix (38%)
- Tucson (37%)
- West Palm Beach (37%)
Cities with lowest share of self-identified Christians:
- San Francisco (68%)
- Portland, Oregon (71%)
- Portland, Maine (72%)
- Seattle (73%)
- Sacramento (73%)
- New York (73%)
- San Diego (75%)
- Los Angeles (75%)
- Boston (76%)
- Phoenix (78%)
- Miami (78%)
- Las Vegas (78%)
- Denver (78%)
[cf. February 2010 Gallup Poll results for church attendance by state. 10 states with lowest church attendance: Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Nevada, Hawaii, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington]
[update May 2011] Using a number of sources (U.S. Census, the yellow pages, the number of volunteers, the amount of money donated to religious organizations and spent on religious books), Men’s Health Metrogrades identified these 10 (out of 100) cities as the least religious:
- Miami, FL
- Newark, NJ
- Manchester, NH
- Fargo, ND
- Jersey City, NJ
- Portland, ME
- Hartford, CT
- Boston, MA
- Providence, RI
- Burlington, VT
How long will it take? How long? A diverse society is all around us in the United States and yet most of our Christian churches do not match that diversity. Most would agree the church should, whether a church leader or the average joe.
Scott Williams weighs in with another voice to reiterate this truth in the new book, Church Diversity: Sunday the Most Segregated Day of the Week. There are dozens of other mentions and book reviews already via the blog book tour. It’s a message that needs repeating because it hasn’t sunk in yet.
As I read the book (which I confess I have not yet finished), it did prompt me to consider some other elephants in the room regarding church diversity.
1. A majority of churches are still working in the shadow of the decades of teachings and thoughts on church growth and the so-called “homogeneous unit principle.” And the commonly cited cliche, “birds of a feather flock together.” For overly practical reasons, it is often easier to gather a larger group of people to sustain a church organization that’d employ staff and pay for meeting space. What will it take to rethink the purpose of church is developing fully-devoted followers and that does not mean catering an “evangelistic” message that’d concede to one’s “natural” racial preferences.
2. @scottwilliams does a great job reviewing the best practices from the business world and outlines the strategies from top innovative corporations that have leadership diversity. For churches that love and value innovation, does incorporating more diversity result in more innovation? In other words, if diversity did accelerate church innovation, wouldn’t the most innovative churches be more diverse? Diverse not only in attendance, but especially in leadership?
3. Looks like church diversity will just take a lot more time and effort, and perhaps more books, more events, more training. Mosaix Global Network is one of the bigger efforts that’s connecting church leaders all over for collaborative efforts – most recently hosting a multiethnic church planting track at the Exponential Conference. This Church Diversity book has a pretty robust campaign to kick off a “movement.” It’s going to take a lot more of what @scottwilliams calls: “right message at the right time.”
I’ve got many more thoughts about this issue, having tracked it for years at my web page of multiethnic church resources, launched at least 5 years ago. Often it feels like we’re back to square one on this topic. But I suppose that’s where most people are, and that’s where we to help each other to learn from each other and work together with each other.
Thanks to the conference organizers of Imagination Summit 2011 at Biola University, you too an watch the inspiring talk with Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy. In that talk, he talks about the history, the meaning of restaurant being a place of restoration, and how that ties into their restaurant business as a place of restoration through food and through customer service. Their 2-year effort to make “second mile second nature” was instrumental in growing revenues in a down-economy and keeping their stores closed on Sundays; great service like fresh-ground pepper, free refills, and possibly personalization-tracking on iPads in the near future.
Watch the video in HD at Youtube or play all 16 videos from Imagination Summit via playlist
Inspired me so much that I went to Chick-Fil-A the very next day for breakfast. And great customer service was demonstrated by their adding cream to my coffee at the drive-thru, although I wish they’d change the company policy, so it’s not just cream and coffee for me.
More recently, I went to a Chick-Fil-A in Orlando (during the Exponential Conference) that hosted a teens’ dance party in the evening — music cranked up LOUD, alcohol-free, and the sweet-tea was flowing! Noticed how my Icedream soft-serve ice cream didn’t melt after slowly savoring it for over an hour. Their use of a styro cup kept it cool and yummy for much longer than the typical paper cup!