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WEEKLY REVIEW: Regulations Coming for Christian Ministries, Christians Respond to Crises, Growth of “Nones” May Be Over

Proposed FASB Regs Could Impact Christian Ministries.  The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued a proposed Accounting Standards Update (ASU) aimed at improving transparency around how nonprofits present and disclose contributed non-financial assets, or gifts-in-kind (GIK).  According to The Non-Profit Times, the new regulation would impact non-profits that receive as contributions “land, buildings, and equipment, materials and supplies (food, clothing and pharmaceuticals), and intangible assets and/or recognized contributed services.”  These proposed regulations could have a significant impact on Christian ministries engaged in relief and development activities.  According to NPT, “Donated pharmaceuticals often garner the most attention, particularly from regulators, who have been known to take issue with how charities value pharmaceuticals sent overseas.” 

Christian Ministries Help During Crisis.  A team of chaplains from the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) deployed to Spartanburg, S.C., to provide emotional and spiritual care to victims after severe storms, tornadoes and flooding impacted the majority of the east coast last week.  The Weather Channel reported that more than 300,000 people were without power and at least five deaths were reported in four states due to the storm system that spawned more than 20 tornadoes.  “Following the storms and tornadoes that went through the southeast, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains were on the ground Friday in South Carolina, alongside Samaritan’s Purse, assessing opportunities to serve those who have been impacted,” said Jack Munday, international director of the RRT. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose homes have been damaged and destroyed and especially for those who have experienced great loss.” 

And In China, Too.  The Christian Post is reporting that Chinese Christians are responding heroically to the coronavirus outbreak.  “Christians in China — where the illness originated — are distributing masks and sharing the love of Christ on the streets in the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak,” the article said.  “While fear and insecurity have gripped the 11 million residents of Wuhan, a city in China’s Hubei province, Christians there have been out on the streetsaccording to Christian Broadcasting Network’s Asia correspondent Lucille Talusan.  Talusan said these Christians face not just the risk of infection but also punishment by the Chinese government, which has recently cracked down on Christian churches in the country.   

Growth of “Nones” Slowing.  One of the most persistent trends in American religious life has been the so-called “Growth of the Nones.”  A recent article in Christian Headlines put it this way:  Since the 1990’s, a growing population of Millennials have identified as “nones,” meaning that they claim no religious affiliation. Over 30 percent of this age group find churches distrustful and religion worthless.”  But that trend – which may have been overstated – may be reversing.  Paul A. Djupe and Ryan Burge of the Religion in Public blog analyzed several polls to reveal that Gen Zers weren’t any more opposed to religion than Millennials. The trend shows that “nones” may be tapering off or even falling.  Some analysts have attributed the slowing to an overstatement of the trend in previous generations.  In other words:  It wasn’t socially acceptable for Baby Boomers to say they were unaffiliated, so many would identify with the religion of their upbringing even though they were already unaffiliated.  That stigma has all but disappeared in American life and we may now, finally, be getting more honest answers to these surveys.  Whatever the causes, these numbers have clear implications for Christian ministries, since those affiliated with religious institutions have significantly higher levels of giving and volunteer participation than those who are unaffiliated. 

ECFA Membership Changes.  The following ministries have seen changes to their Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) membership.  Removals:  WCIC (Peoria, Ill.), Prevention Programs (Jeffersonville, Ind.)  Additions: Life Action (Buchanan, Mich.), CityTeam House of Light (San Jose, Calif.), Life Changes Programs (Bridgeport, Conn.),  

MinistryWatch Database Updates.  The financial information of the following ministries have been updated in the MinistryWatch database.  Click on the name of the ministry to go to the full MinistryWatch profile.  Our rating of the ministry is in parenthesis (1 to 5 stars, with 5 stars being our highest rating). If the ministry has experienced a change in its rating, that change is also noted.  Prison Fellowship Ministries (1 Star).  Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (3 Stars).  Jewish Voice (2 Stars, up from 1 star).  Joshua Fund (4 Stars).  Joyce Meyer Ministries (4 Stars).  Kids Alive (3 Stars).  Lamb & Lion Ministries (5 Stars, up from 4 stars).  Life Issues Institute (1 Star, down from 3 stars).  Life Outreach (2 Stars).  Concerned Women for America (2 Stars, down from 3 stars).  Ligonier Ministries (2 Stars, up from 1 star).  Living Water International (3 Stars).  Lutheran Bible Translators (2 Stars, down from 3 stars).  Lutheran World Relief (3 Stars).   

Warren Cole Smith

Warren previously served as Vice President of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD Magazine, and Vice President of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur. Before launching a career in Christian journalism 25 years ago, Smith spent more than seven years as the Marketing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.