Summary: In his letter to the Phillipians, Paul invites us to join him as he strives for Christian perfection. This is a good New Year Resolution for us. This sermon and its invitation launches a new sermon series exploring our ’postmodern’ times & how we can st

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Happy New Year! Only 4 hours and __minutes to go. I’m sure that most of us will be happy to see 2001 go and hope that 2002 will be a better year.

There has been some talk about New Year resolutions around the office these last days before the new year. I guess the talk of these new resolutions has been on my mind lately. Perhaps there is a stronger urge to make commitments to improve our personal lives and situations at times like these. I do believe many of us are looking forward to, may I even say yearn for, a new beginning this new year - 2002.

Maybe you haven’t been thinking of New Year resolutions at all. I hope when our time together comes to a close, I have gotten you to reconsider the idea. If you are thinking of making some New Year resolutions, I have found some information interesting for us to consider. Barna Research Corporation has summarized some of the year’s most intriguing findings. I believe these findings have some bearing on the changes (commitments) we intent to make for our life in the upcoming year. George Barna has identified them as the most Revealing, Controversial, Surprising, Challenging statistical results for 2001:

* Although Americans do not believe it is OK to engage in illegal activities of immoral and controversial content, Americans are comfortable legalizing activities of immoral and controversial content.

* Religious teaching or values minimally affect people’s moral choices. The major influences on decisions are expected outcomes of personal choices, minimizing conflict over the choices made, and parental values we have been taught.

* Among adults who have been married, Christians and non-Christians have essentially the same probability of divorce.

* At least three out of ten adults who identify themselves as Christians say that cohabitation, breaking the speed-limit or engaging in sexually-explicit material or actions are morally acceptable behaviors.

*Adults under the age of 35 were the least likely to have a biblical perspective or understanding of basic faith practices and biblical beliefs.

* 41% of adults who attend church services have not embraced Christ as their savior.

* Church membership is on the decline.

* Very few Christians are likely to read the Bible during the week.

* By the end of the decade, 50 million Americans will seek to have their spiritual experiences solely through the Internet rather than at a church. Upwards of 100 million Americans will rely upon the Internet to deliver some aspects of their religious experience.

* Although 0ne-third of all Church members claim to tithe their income, only 12% actually do so.

* Financial support of churches dropped substantially between 1998 and 2000- and will likely decline again this year, as a result of changed giving patterns related to the

9-11 attacks.

*Just half of all home schooling parents identify themselves as Christians.

* Less than 5% of the nation’s churches have youth groups that attract 100 or more teenagers.

* Although attending church as a child increases the likelihood of a person attending as an adult, that affect is declining substantially.

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