New Normal Churches Post-Pandemic, Christians More Generous & Prayer Drenched in Thanksgiving
For two years now, almost every church in America has been holding in-person worship services, but not every pre-pandemic worshiper has returned. Practicing Christians outpaced non-practicing Christians and nonbelievers in giving to charities including churches in 2022, the American Bible Society (ABS) said Nov. 14 in the latest release from its 2023 State of the Bible report. And, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, Kie Bowman says we should remember to express thanksgiving in our prayers.
For two years now, almost every church in America has been holding in-person worship services, but not every pre-pandemic worshiper has returned.
The final Lifeway Research tracking data for U.S. Protestant churches’ COVID-19 recovery finds 100 percent (rounded to the nearest whole number) met in person in August 2023, capping off a rebound since the early months of the pandemic.
In March 2020, immediately prior to the widespread COVID-19 outbreak, 99 percent of congregations held in-person worship services. The next month, only 10 percent did so. By June 2020, most churches (70 percent) were physically gathering. That percentage continued to climb, reaching 87 percent by September 2020. Following a brief dip in January 2021 to 76 percent, almost all churches held in-person services in August of that year (98 percent) and January 2022 (97 percent). Last August, 100 percent (rounded) of congregations gathered in person for worship.
Practicing Christians outpaced non-practicing Christians and nonbelievers in giving to charities including churches in 2022, the American Bible Society (ABS) said Nov. 14 in the latest release from its 2023 State of the Bible report.
The vast majority of practicing Christians (95 percent) gave to charities in 2022, compared to 68 percent of non-practicing Christians and 51 percent of nonbelievers. The ABS defines practicing Christians as those who identify as such, attend church at least monthly and consider their faith very important in their lives.
Churches, ministries and other houses of worship were the top recipients of charitable gifts for the year, with religion one of the few sectors realizing an increase in receipts, ABS said. But when accounting for inflation, the estimated $143.57 billion in religious contributions – a 5.2 percent increase over 2021 –represented a 2.6 percent decline.
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As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, Kie Bowman says we should remember to express thanksgiving in our prayers.
He writes, “Jesus Himself is the perfect example of utilizing thanksgiving as a form of personal prayer. For instance, the gospels mention about 20 instances of Jesus in prayer. Frequently, those examples include overt expressions of thanksgiving.
For example, only John records the raising of Lazarus. As a result, it is the only gospel that mentions the prayer of Jesus as the stone was rolled away from Lazarus’ tomb, “…And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me’” (John 11:41). When Jesus fed the 5000 and later the 4000, He publicly thanked God on both occasions (John 6:11; Mark 8:6). Additionally, He thanked God in prayer for revealing truth to His disciples (Mark 11:25). Jesus also thanked God during the Last Supper as He contemplated the cross, “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me’” (Luke 22:19). Approximately one-third of the recorded prayers of Jesus in the gospels are prayers of thanksgiving. As in all things, what Jesus modeled we should mimic.”
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The funeral of First Lady Rosalynn Carter is scheduled for Wednesday in her home church in Plains, Georgia. #GivingTuesday is a refreshing change of pace at the start of the Christmas shopping season, which is often filled with buying gifts, and typically kicks off the year-end giving season. And, Indiana pastor Stephen Viars offers four tips on how to lead with integrity.
According to Forbes, Americans spent around $35.3 billion dollars in 2022 during the Thanksgiving weekend…of course, that includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The TSA is reminding air passengers that some Thanksgiving goodies aren’t allowed through airport security. And, as the conflict in the Middle East continues, don’t lose sight of the power of prayer.
Thanksgiving Dinner, Reflections on Thankfulness & The First Thanksgiving