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Unchurched in America

The Barna research group came out with some recent findings regarding the demographic of the population in America that has not attended a church in the last six months.
  • 63% of Asians are unchurched
  • 49% of homosexuals
  • 47% of political liberals
  • 37% of single adults
  • 34% of Hispanics
  • 31% of heterosexuals
  • 29% of married adults
  • 25% of African Americans
  • 19% of political conservatives
Where does your mind go when you read that? Is that there fault? Ours? What's the best we could really hope for? So pretty much if you're a married, conservative, African American you probably go to church.

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Deal Or No Deal!

Last Wednesday night over 275 middle schoolers from Salem crowded into our youth center as we put on an evening that will never be forgotten. What we hoped would be massive, exciting, and sticky for middle schoolers to connect to a place that will help them grow completely blew away our expectations. You had to be there...but I hope to post some video soon so you actually can experience a little bit of it yourself. Needless to say, this was a dream come true for me and our team and was an incredibly effective way to get unchurched middle schoolers in the door, our essential, ultimate goal. The above picture is my favorite and gives a feel of what it was like. The first contestant, Whitney, was a first-time visitor and walked away with $75! The second girl was a regular named Emily. As soon as she picked her briefcase our new middle school pastor, Michelle, leans over and says to me, "that is the $250 case (the largest amount possible)." I imagine that we'll be giving away a larger sum of money but I quickly recalled a conversation I had with my boss a few weeks earlier when I assured him it was near statistically impossible to give away the top dolalr amount. In fact, in the 72 or show tapings of the American television show they have never given away the $1,000,000. In fact they've never even given away $500,000. I knew 'the house always wins' and was not too nervous. However, as she continued playing I noticed a disturbing trend. She was knocking off all of the low numbers at a disproportionate rate. Understandably she keeps saying, "no deal." With 5 cases remaining including her own, the numbers still on the board read: $2, $5, $30, $175 and $250. She opens the $5 case. The banker's offer goes up and she says 'no deal.' With three cases left she opens the $3o case. The place starts going a little crazy. The show had started getting a little dry near the end but this was just what the crowd needed. The banker offers $150 to 'buy' her case. She straight-faced says 'no deal.' I start freaking out, this really isn't going to be good for my long-term job security if I gave away too much. She picks another case and it opens to read $2. Unbelievable, the crowd goes nuts. The only two remaining numbers are the highest dollar amounts. As far as I know this is the only time this has happened in the history of the worldwide show. The banker offers $210 to this 8th grader and she doesn't even flinch, 'no deal.' At this point the energy is palpable as is my anxiety. I know what's going to happen but the student's don't. Howie Mandel opens the case and pandemonium breaks out as Emily Flager wins $250. She beat the unbeatable odds and left us with a moment we'll not soon forget. It wasn't the way I had the evening planned but God was gracious and gave us an unforgettable evening that was talked about by hundreds of students across every middle school in town the next day. The guy I interned under, Erik Williams was a spitting image of Howie and did a fantastic job hosting the evening. Becca was a beautiful Deal or No Deal model as was another small group leader Molly Nelson. We had an incredible tech team of live cameras, sound effects, commercials and lights all led by Jared Schilling and Justin Fish. It was a team effort and one we won't soon forget. Check back soon for some video highlights

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3 Yr Anniversary & The Team is Complete

On this day three years ago I started at Salem Alliance as a scraggly, awkward, overconfident, and insecure middle school intern. Today, I'm proud to say that I'm now a scraggly, awkward, overconfident and insecure middle school pastor, note the difference! It has been both a blessing and a curse to have spent only one of my three years here with a full team. A blessing because my learning curve and development has been on hyper drive and a curse because we were never meant to stay too long on hyper drive. I am thrilled that today was the first day for our new female Youth Pastor in the world of Middle School. Her name is Michelle Unwin and she hails from the birthplace of Coke. You need to figure that out. Their house hasn't sold by that hasn't stopped her, she flew in with her two kids a few days ago and is jumping in. I'm excited to relax in some ways and press forward in others. For those who are not familiar with the team pictured above they are (clockwise from top left): Linda Byeman (administrative assistant), Michelle Unwin (middle school), Tifani Riggle (high school), Steve Dangaran (student ministries pastor, aka boss), Brian Condello (high school), yours truly in middle school, and Patrick Kelley (college).