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Summary: Acts 12 is a scenario filled with murders – arrests – jail breaks – miracles – humor – and judgment. The chapter reveals that God is in charge not kings or presidents of nations. The text reveals that God responds to prayer and God judges sin.

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“Fly High” – Acts part 10

On the lighter side of life: See funny slides

Illustration on the condition of the present day church:

** IS THE CHURCH ON THE ENDANGERED LIST?

Many Americans are on a spiritual quest. This should be good news

for the church. But, according to researchers, many of them are

choosing noninstitutional forms of religion. A recent poll by Gallup

shows that weekly church attendance is holding steady at about 40

percent of the population - the same rate as in the 1950s. But other

researchers - like Dave T. Olson, director of TheAmericanChurch.org

- claim only 17.7 percent of the population attends a church service

any given weekend.

Olson, who bases his numbers on annual church attendance reported by

individual U.S. congregations, says, "People who only go to church

now and again exaggerate how often they go."

Albert Winseman, religion and social trends editor for the Gallup

Organization, says people are shopping for alternatives to church

and that is one reason 3,000 local churches close their doors

annually.

"Most denominations are either declining or stagnant," says

Winseman.

The Assemblies of God is one of the few Christian groups to show

steady growth in recent years. The Yearbook of American and Canadian

Churches reports the Assemblies of God and Southern Baptists are the

only Protestant faith groups of the largest 25 to report an increase

in membership for 2004.

An April Gallup poll indicated 65 percent of Pentecostals attend

church weekly, second only to Church of Christ (at 68 percent) among

Protestant groups.

VANISHING PROTESTANT MAJORITY

Half a century ago, two-thirds of the population considered

themselves Protestants. Officially, for the first time last year,

self-identified Protestants dipped below half of all Americans,

according to Gallup research.

Evangelical and Pentecostal church attendance looks stable, but

membership isn’t keeping pace with population growth. Olson says

although the same number of people are attending church as 15 years

ago, there are an additional 48 million people living in the

country.

But people are not necessarily flocking to other faiths. J. Gordon

Melton, author of the Encyclopedia of American Religions, says

tabulating all the Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and New Agers

accounts for only 7 percent of Americans. Self-professing atheists

comprise another 10 percent of the population.

"In the culture today we don’t have the churchgoing momentum we did

in the 1950s, when ’respectable people’ attended church every week,"

says Earl Creps, director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at

Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri.

"There’s no guarantee anymore that people are going to come to

church."

Although only 17 to 40 percent of Americans attend church regularly,

about 80 percent of the population professes Christianity.

Pollster George Barna, who last year wrote the book "Revolution:

Finding Vibrant Faith Beyond the Walls of the Sanctuary," believes a

transformational shift is occurring in how Christians view church.


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