Christian Immigration, Congregational Singing, Martin Luther Books, Hungary Helps Christians, and Chuck Colson’s Birthday

SIGNS AND WONDERS

Christian Immigrants. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that in 2016 a record number of Muslims entered the United States. About 46 percent of refugees entering this country were Muslim in 2016, compared to 43 percent who identified as Christian. However, that year seems to be an anomaly. Data for 2017 suggests that Muslim refugees fell a bit, and the percentage of Christians (46 percent) exceeded that of Muslims (43 percent). Over the past 15 years, from 2002 to 2017, the number of Christians admitted to the U.S. has far exceeded that of Muslims and all others.

Congregational Singing. In many megachurches today, the music has become a performance, with the congregation looking more like the audience at a rock concert. However, there’s a movement to return congregational singing to the church. Led by such “modern hymn” writers as Keith and Kristyn Getty, congregational singing may be making a comeback. The Gettys led a conference recently that attracted more than 4000 people—all to discuss the importance of congregational singing and the power of hymns to teach theology and form faith. Additionally, last weekend an organization calling itself the Center for Congregational Song launched an effort to bring hymns back to the church.

Sorting Luther. The 500th anniversary of the Reformation has spawned an entire industry around the publication of books about Martin Luther. We here at the Colson Center must admit to a bit of a bias, since one of these books was written by our very own Eric Metaxas, and that book debuted on the New York Times bestseller list last week. But if you’re trying to decide what to read in addition to Eric’s book, Marvin Olasky has a helpful roundup of All Things Luther in the most recent issue of WORLD. You can find his list of the 25 best books on the reformer here.

Hungary Helps. A remarkable event took place in Hungary last week: an international conference on Christian persecution. Led by a senior Hungarian government official, the event also highlighted that country’s contribution, of 2 million euros, to aid displaced churches in Iraq—putting their efforts far above those of the United States, according to WORLD’s Mindy Belz. You can learn more about the event by going to Twitter and searching on the hashtag #HungaryHelps.

Milestones. Three great Christian leaders were born this week. Rich Mullins was born Oct. 21, 1955. Fellow Christian music pioneer Keith Green was born on the same day, two years earlier, in 1953. The Colson Center’s founder, Chuck Colson, was born Oct. 16, 1931. But as important as his birthday is the day he was “born again.” Chuck told the story of the day that happened in a BreakPoint commentary that we re-aired yesterday, to remember his birth and his rebirth. In case you missed that powerful story, you can find it here.

Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.


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  • Phoenix1977

    “the event also highlighted that country’s contribution, of 2 million euros, to aid displaced churches in Iraq”
    Perhaps a country destroyed by war needs houses, schools and hospitals more than it needs churches?

    • Tom Sathre

      phoenix1977…when does the restoration of churches bubble up near enuf the top of some list to be granted Restorability?

      • Phoenix1977

        When everything else is taken care of.

  • Joel Stucki

    I appreciate the Gettys contribution, but until the Church starts caring about the quality of its music again, all the conferences in the world won’t change a thing.

    • ElrondPA

      Conferences can be a way to get church leaders caring about the quality of music, so they can go back to their churches, implement what they learn, and call their congregations to come along. They can help cast a vision of what the (healthy) purposes of music in a worship service are, and model how to accomplish those purposes. And the Gettys certainly are providing quality music–good, singable tunes married to theologically solid and thought-provoking lyrics. I’ll stack the quality of their output up against Watts, Wesley, or Crosby any day (meaning no disrespect to them, all of whom I love as well, though Crosby can be overly sentimental, IMHO).

      • Joel Stucki

        Oh, I have no problem with the Gettys! But my experience has led me to question whether the vast majority of church leaders even have the musical acumen to do what you describe. The decisions being made about music in the local churches are by and large being made by well intentioned board members who have no knowledge or expertise in music.

        I have rarely, if ever, seen musical decisions made in a Church for any reason but one. And that reason is: what do people want? It’s a numbers game. What will make people happy and comfortable, what will get them in the door. That’s the only consideration I see in local churches. The question of what great music can do to glorify God, and of how bad music dilutes the gospel—that question is never even asked. To say nothing of the question of whether most people would still be able to distinguish good music from bad.