Category: Church Organization


Proeschold-Bell and Adams on Clergy Mental Health

While many parishioners often look to their pastor for emotional and spiritual support, it is not often that we think that members of the clergy need such psychological assistance as well. Nonetheless, the demands of the ministry can be highly demanding and their unique professional role may often lead to isolation from important social support networks. Profs. Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell (Duke) and Chris Adams (Azusa Pacific) discuss the results of a recent study on the mental health of ministers within the United Methodist Church. The focus is not only on trying to address negative mental health outcomes, but ways in which positive mental health predictors can be encouraged. We also talk about how one counselor (Dr. Adams) has put this research to use in his own role as a counselor to seminarians and missionaries.

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John Fea on the American Bible Society

Happy bicentennial to the American Bible Society, celebrating its 200th year in operation on May 11, 2016. To celebrate, we invite historian John Fea (Messiah College) to discuss the history of the ABS and his recent book “The Bible Cause.” We track the changes to this quintessential American institution over time, emphasizing how it reflected and shaped our society over the past two centuries.

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Christopher Hale on Religion & Protest in Mexico

Prof. Christopher Hale (U of Alabama) discusses how religion is connected to political protest in Mexico. Building upon some foundational work in the religious economies school, he explains how institutional decentralization and lay leadership fosters socio-economic activism. He also addresses the role of ideology and religious competition.

Check out our extensive archives of great episodes. There is sure to be something of interest to everyone there!

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Michael McConnell on Church Property Disputes

When a congregation splits from a denomination, what becomes of the church property? More specifically, how have US state courts wrestled with the issue of religious property disputes while trying to preserve the autonomy of church doctrine? Prof. Michael McConnell (Stanford Law School) answers these questions in historical context. He notes how judicial decisions have changed from the traditional “English Rule” favoring hierarchical denominations over congregations, to perspectives that are less intrusive into the internal doctrine and organization of a faith, nothing that there is still a great deal of ambiguity in the law. He argues for an approach known as “strict neutral principles.”

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Andrew Johnson on Pentecostals in Prison in Brazil

Life in prison can be quite difficult and violent, especially within the Brazilian penal system. Dr. Andrew Johnson at the Center for Religion & Civil Culture discusses his extremely innovative work on the role of Pentecostalism in Brazilian favelas and prison. His research had him actually living among inmates for several weeks in a Rio de Janeiro prison. We talk about the relationship that Pentecostals have with drug gangs with poor neighborhoods in Brazil and the role that religion plays within the cell block.

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Phillip Sinitiere on the Osteens & Lakewood Church

Joel Osteen has risen to fame and popularity over the past decade and a half, and not without much criticism for his spiritual message and preaching style. Prof. Phillip Sinitiere examines the founding and growth of Lakewood Church, dating back to John Osteen, to put the Osteen phenomenon into a broader context. We examine the history of the Osteens, the institutional development and innovativeness of Lakewood Church, as well as the development of the prosperity gospel and what it all entails. The story that emerges is more nuanced than either supporters or detractors paint.

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Sarah Bond on the Church & Funerals in Late Antiquity (Encore Presentation)

How were the funerals for the dead managed in the period of “late antiquity,” roughly spanning the middle 3rd to late 6th century? Historian Sarah Bond of Maquette University surveys the “disreputable profession” of funeral workers prior to, and after, the Edict of Milan, noting how the change in church-state relations that occured had a dramatic impact on the this critical industry. In the post-Constantinian era, funeral workers were often used as bodyguards and personal militaries for bishops, and the process of interring bodies opened the door to a great deal of corruption (rent-seeking) within the Church.

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Jim McGuffey on Church Security (encore presentation)

In light of the horrific church shooting in South Carolina recently, we present a previously released episode related to one aspect of this news story: church security. While not the only angle to examine recent events from, the issue of church security has been one point of discussion.

Our prayers and condolences go out to all those affected by the events in Charleston.

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Warren Bird on Church Leadership Teams

What makes for an effective leadership team? Using insights from business analysis, Dr. Warren Bird of the Leadership Network discusses a study conducted in over 200 churches that filtered out the various characteristics of groups that led to success. Our conversation also discusses the recent Pew Forum report on the declining presence of Christianity in the United States and finishes up with how church leadership should address a potentially new religious environment in America.

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William Wubbenhorst on Serve, West Dallas and FBO Evaluation

Are faith-based efforts to transform an impoverished community in Texas effective? William Wubbenhorst, co-president of Social Capital Valuations, discusses this unique collaborative program to reduce social ills in West Dallas and how he has measured the program’s effectiveness. We cover the various component parts of Serve and discuss the various difficulties in evaluating programs such as this one.

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