Todd Shupe Encouraged By U.S. Numbers Of Faithful Compared To European Decline

todd shupe

It doesn’t take a prolonged look around to realize that church attendance is down and pews are a bit barren from time to time. A quick canvass of friends and co-workers will similarly tell you that overall church attendance has reached discouraging numbers. According to an Oct. 17, 2017 article from National Review magazine, a new book and recently-released study explores this trend as it has been unfolding in Europe. According to Todd Shupe, who has worked tirelessly to further Christian organizations and outreach efforts, it would behoove us to recommitting ourselves to The Great Commission.

First, the study: The National Center for Social Research found that 62 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 in England identify as having no religion. In Scotland, the study found that church attendance has dropped by 50 percent in the past three years and just three percent of English people between the ages of 18 and 24 identify as Anglican. Moving on to the book, “The Strange Death of Europe,” author Douglas Murray explores societal and cultural changes on the continent in his 2017 publication. According to Murray, this is attributed to, in part, immigration and the new norms that newcomers bring with them. Given the above statistics, it’s difficult to stay with a straight face that the modern church of any denomination is doing well.

To Todd Shupe, a man of unshakable faith and former professor with LSU, America is no stranger to spotty attendance on Sunday mornings.  While he doesn’t like what the study and book have to say, recent stats out of America paint a more encouraging picture. According to an in-depth Pew Research Center study from 2014, 63 percent of 35,071 respondents contacted by Pew said they had an “absolutely certain” belief in God. Compare that to a mere nine percent who felt the opposite and it’s clear that we’re doing something right on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Some readers may wonder why trusting a higher power so important? To Todd Shupe, the moral foundations that are built through religion also brings with it a sense that something greater than us is in control. If we can learn to communicate with God and see His work on a daily basis, then those who’ve stopped making the weekly pilgrimage to church might remember why we go in the first place: To meet with fellow Christians and demonstrate your obedience to God above all others.

Todd Shupe’s Take On Race Relations And The Bible Interpretations

todd shupe

We have had problems in this country with race relations for many years. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark civil rights and federal labor law in the United States, which outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. In recent years, untold news reports have documented the civil unrest in New York City, Los Angeles, Ferguson, Missouri; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Atlanta, Georgia and numerous other cities across our country. This unrest is often associated with police brutality against young black men, explains Todd Shupe.

What’s more, such instances have occurred repeatedly with seemingly no plan to curb them. If we turn to the Bible, however, it’s clear that such divisions were never intended by our creator. In this article, Todd Shupe explains the way we should treat each other as evidenced by scripture.

“Any time one human dehumanizes another through racism, sexism, ageism, religion or more, it breaks my heart,” Christian organization volunteer Todd Shupe said recently. “There is truly one race of people — the human race. Throughout history, the enemy has used his weapons of fear, jealously and greed to develop hatred and mistrust of the races.”

St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:12, “There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body.” Acts 17:26 tells us, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth.” In other translations, the wording is “from one blood.”

We are all children of God and we all seek to enter His kingdom through the narrow gate, Todd Shupe says. We are all commanded to love and respect one another. A Christian seeks to be a disciple and a disciple is known by their actions.  “By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Be blessed!

Benefits of Giving Back To The Church Are Many, Todd Shupe Implores The Faithful

At any church, “giving” is one of the more sensitive topics for many that is also very important to discuss. That’s because “giving” is fundamentally essential for the existence and the growth of the local church and the church universal. We often associate giving with money. Although money is important, giving involves more than money. According to Todd Shupe, a disciple will give of their financial resources, time and talents. Recent studies show that tithers make up only 10 to 25 percent of a normal congregation. Only 5 percent of the U.S. tithes, with 80 percent of Americans only giving 2 percent of their income. Christians are only giving at 2.5 percent per capita, while they gave at a 3.3 percent rate during the Great Depression.

Finances:
According to Todd Shupe, formerly of LSU, most Christians are familiar with the 10 percent tithe. “Make an offering of 10 percent, a tithe, of all the produce which grows in your fields year after year,” Deuteronomy 14:22-26. First, it is important to stop here and acknowledge that God does not need our money. However, God desires our hearts and our commitment to Him. A full tithe is a sign of trust and commitment and helps to support and advance the local church and its missions.

“Our financial resources are a blessing from God and our tithe is returning a small portion to God what we have received from God,” Todd Shupe said recently. “Stewardship is much more than financial giving to the church. It is also giving our time, talents, and witness.”

Time:
Time is a gift of God. How we choose to use it is a matter of discernment and stewardship. Some people lead lives of quiet desperation, always over-extending themselves to the point of exhaustion while others sit around in apathetic boredom. Some spend all their hours serving the needs of others at the expense of their own, while others live only for themselves. As Christian stewards, we try to manage time wisely and in a balanced way. As such, we give our time gladly to family and friends, to strangers, to the community, the church and to ourselves.

Talents:
Do you remember Jesus’ parable of the three servants who received different amounts of money to manage while the master was away? We’ve each received from God distinctive gifts and talents. Todd Shupe, formerly of LSU, believes how we develop and use these talents is a matter of stewardship. Like two of the servants in Jesus’ story, we can invest them wisely — or like the third, out of fear we can hide them (Matthew 25:14-30).

Witness:
God desires that we serve as His witness wherever we go. For some, this may be mission trips or full time missionaries. For others, it may be as St. Francis of Assisi said, to “speak the gospel wherever you go and use words when necessary.” Todd Shupe believes that the best witness is through your actions – service to others.

Selected Scripture on Giving

1. The Lord Jesus expects and requires us to give: Jesus said to His disciples, “When you give,” not “if you give” (Matthew 6:2). Hence, Christian giving is not optional, but rather essential. We often hear folks say, “In the Old Testament they had to give, but not in the New — now we only give if we want to.” This is clearly incorrect. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
2. The Lord Jesus wants us to give for the right reasons: Jesus warned His disciples not to give for the sake of being admired by men. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them,” He said (Matthew 6:1). When we give, we must be careful to examine our motives. We ought to give for the glory of God and the good of His people. We must desire His approval of our giving, rather than the praise and admiration of people.
3. The Lord Jesus wants us to practice benevolent or charitable giving: Jesus said, “When you give to the poor…” (Matthew 6:2-3). Jesus is specifically teaching about “alms” in this passage: aid, charity or benevolent offerings for the needy.
4. The Lord Jesus reminds us that our giving is ultimately to the all-seeing heavenly Father: Jesus said, “When you give…; your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you,” (Matthew 6:3-4). When we give, we are not simply adding to the Church budget, we are giving back to God what came from God.
5. The Bible teaches that Christian giving is an act of worship: In connection with the previous point, we see this truth stressed in another way in Paul’s word’s “On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save,” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Paul here teaches the Corinthians that their taking up of the collection is an act of worship which is to be a part of their regular Lord’s Day worship. When we put our money in the plate, we are worshiping Almighty God in accordance with His Word. Paul is speaking here of a “collection for the saints.” This is giving by the Church to the Church for the Church.
In summary, the Bible teaches that Christian giving ought to be cheerful giving. As Paul says “God loves a cheerful giver.” This is a truly amazing assertion. Paul assures us here that the Lord takes a special delight in those who are joyful, energetic, merry givers God says in Malachi 3:10: “’Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’” This is the only occasion in which God asks us to test him. In fact, after Jesus was baptized, the Enemy tempted him and He answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”
Clearly, we have not come close to reaching our potential for giving. Won’t you pray that we will give as we ought? That we will give for the right motives? That we will give joyously? And that we will give extravagantly.

Four Ways To Turn Father’s Day Into A Celebration Of The Selfless Service Men Do Daily

While we’d rather see more than one day per year dedicated to recognizing the fathers in all our lives, we’ll take one and seize upon it for now.

With Father’s Day just around the corner, now’s the time to start planning the best ways to mark the occasion. From family outings to intimate sit-downs with like-minded family and friends, Father’s Day is a chance to show respect, appreciation and utmost gratitude for the sacrifices our fathers have made throughout their lives and ours to better our quality of living. Todd Shupe — a member of Gulf South Men, a Christian men’s organization — is a firm believer in Father’s Day. That’s because it can be used for purposes beyond a card in the mail or a nice dinner.  For more information on Gulf South Men, click here.

With that in mind, here are four ways to spend the upcoming holiday thanks to suggestions from the Charlotte, North Carolina-based arm of Band of Brothers. For more information on that organization, click here. For ways to turn this upcoming Sunday into a celebration of men everywhere, keep reading.

 

– Angels in the Outfield: What says “spring has arrived” more than an afternoon at a baseball game? If sports aren’t your thing but you still want to spend time outdoors with your family, Todd Shupe suggests a nature walk, day at the beach or visit to an animal sanctuary.

 

– Leading by Example: Reach out to your congregation and see if they will allow you to use the church for an educational seminar on the modern role of a father. Invite the community at large and be surprised at how much new information and insight into other’s lives that you’ll walk away with.

 

– Sunday Service: When it comes time to attend church on Father’s Day, those in the position to preach should take their role to heart and spread a message that will reach all men – not just fathers. Encourage a handful of men in the congregation to share stories of success through faith. You can also distribute a survey to men in attendance to get a better idea of issues they face today. That survey can then be used by your church’s leadership team to shape fall programming in hopes of reaching more with resonating messages. St. Andrews United Methodist in Baton Rouge, La., has an United Methodist Men Sunday that occurs on or near Father’s Day.  The service is lead by the men of the church and they select a special guest speaker to bring a powerful message of God’s love and grace.

– Rest and Relaxation: After church, head outdoors for a family picnic or to a site with recreational options for you and the family to consider. It’s both a team-building exercise and quality time well spent with loved ones.