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2003 PE Report

Americans find comfort in ‘nesting,’ but connecting is another matter (December 22, 2002)

Viewer discretion advised: Reality-based programs stoop to new low (December 15, 2002)

A/G among fastest growing faith groups (December 8, 2002)

Christians play crucial role in foster care (November 24, 2002)

A/G churches remember with outreaches (November 17, 2002)

Elderly face added woes from credit card debt (November 10, 2002)

PE Kidz News from BGMC (October 27, 2002)

Cyber-evangelists find innovative ways to share gospel (October 20, 2002)

Risks, stigma accompany wearing of tattoos (October 13, 2002)

Women lead on-campus ministries (September 29, 2002)

Tobacco, alcohol, gambling industries find underage Internet client base (September 22, 2002)

Marijuana, cocaine have abusive company: Ecstasy, meth and prescription painkillers (September 15, 2002)

September 11: A day that changed American Christians forever (September 8, 2002)

Congress, courts clash over Internet filtering issue (August 25, 2002)

People with disabilities bless churches (August 18, 2002)

Short-term youth binges can result in long-term habit (August 11, 2002)

Christians aim to preserve traditional marriage (July 28, 2002)

Payback time: Christian volunteers motivated to give back to community (July 21, 2002)

Urban training centers minister
to ever-growing population
(July 14, 2002)

E-mail rumors dupe multitudes, hurt credibility (June 30, 2002)

Not so innocent: PG-13 films increasingly push sex, language limits (June 23, 2002)

Skipping church: Why are some Americans staying home on Sunday? (June 16, 2002)

Fudge fellowship: Pastor's wife treats tavern clientele (June 9, 2002)

Persevering nomadic church finally reaches promised land (May 26, 2002)

Tragedy brings A/G church, community closer to God (May 19, 2002)

Couples find God's calling in adopting, raising children (May 12, 2002)

A/G chaplain ministers to women in maximum-security prison (April 28, 2002)

Youth center offers alternative to teens (April 21, 2002)

A week without television (April 14, 2002)

Technological know-how aids San Jose church outreach (March 31, 2002)

Cincinnati racial reconciliation brings inner peace to inner city (March 24, 2002)

District's fund-raising efforts aid pastors planting churches (March 17, 2002)

GED program an effective ministry (March 10, 2002)

Building relationshipis at heart of women's ministries outreach (February 24, 2002)

Single-minded devotion: Unmarried ranks offer ministry opportunities (February 17, 2002)

Bethany College honors black minister pioneer (February 10, 2002)

A/G quarterback wins Unitas Award (January 27, 2002)

Camp Melody plants song of love in boys' hearts (January 20, 2002)

Pastor breaks giving record after 10 days atop billboard (January 13, 2002)

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories


Home sweet home: Americans find comfort in ‘nesting,’ but connecting is another matter

By Katy Attanasi (December 22, 2002)

Despite perilous times resulting from terrorism fears and economic doldrums, analysts say Americans are spending as if there is no tomorrow. Even with the anxiety, or perhaps because of it, Americans who have the means are turning their homes into well-stocked fortresses, complete with the latest home entertainment and food-service technical gadgetry.

But cultural observers say hanging around the home doesn’t necessarily bring the peace people are seeking, nor does it automatically draw family members closer. Trying to fill a void with material goods rather than spiritual answers will always leave a hole, they say.

“People need to remember that it’s not tomorrow that is frightening, it’s the story that people tell themselves about the unknown or about tomorrow that’s frightening,” says Ed Clarke, assistant sociology professor at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, Calif. “Christ needs to dominate that story, instead of fear and trepidation.”

For many Americans, the life-changing pattern began in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks that heightened feelings of fear and uncertainty. When sniper attacks threatened the Washington, D.C., area for three weeks in October, a similar, more personal sense of vulnerability returned.

As a response to fear provoked by terrorist attacks and an increasingly harried pace of life, some experts are reporting a “nesting trend” — a cultural shift characterized by a growing appreciation for home and family.

According to a September American Demographics report, more people are finding comfort in their homes. Increased income portions are being spent on home furnishings, home accessories, home entertainment and gifts for relatives. The same report indicates that 78 percent of Americans say that family is more important to them since September 11.

A.J. Riedel, senior partner at the Phoenix research firm Riedel Marketing Group, says that post-9/11 fear is one factor that plays into this move toward increased investing in the home, which she predicts will continue. “It’s also a feeling that we’ve lost something in our fast and furious pace of life,” she says. “There’s so much information and our schedules are so hectic that we want a retreat, a sanctuary and a place to get away to, and that’s the home.”

Clarke disagrees that indicators of increased home investment show changes in American values, arguing that they should be credited to a declining economy and lucrative home refinancing options, which make it advantageous to invest in and stay at home.

Nonetheless, facets of the nesting trend deserve a closer look. Dr. Richard Dobbins, founder of EMERGE Ministries in Akron, Ohio, observes that though families could be spending more time at home they may not be drawing closer together. In fact, according to EMERGE Ministries, marriages have not been significantly stronger since September 11.

Instead, Dobbins notes a different trend. “What is observable is a marked increase in anxiety level, which motivates people to look for sources of security. People feel more secure at home than in public.”

The American Demographics findings concur. Nearly a quarter of Americans are fearful of familiar surroundings, and 11 percent of people are more distrustful of their neighbors than they were prior to the attacks. Similarly, people are much more vigilant and suspicious, and feel more vulnerable. “Things you wouldn’t normally attach danger to are looked at as though they may be dangerous,” Dobbins says. “Individual Americans are increasingly aware of the risk that may come to them beyond our national boundaries as well as within our national borders.”

It is this heightened sense of vulnerability that the Washington, D.C., area experienced in October as daily activities became associated with fatal shootings. Steve Brimmer, pastor of Fairfax (Va.) A/G located just outside the nation’s capital, suspects that the trauma of the sniper shootings will have a long-term effect. “In some ways, life has gone back to normal quickly, but on a psychological level, it has made an impact,” he says. “You tend to watch your back more. People are less secure and trusting. I don’t think life will go back to where it was.”

Brimmer says that the church can respond to these feelings of insecurity by being a community that conveys the message of security in the Lord and a place for meaningful relationships. “It’s a great opportunity if Christians will take time to build friendships and allow people to not only see Jesus in us, but find out why He gives us peace in the middle of difficult and dark days,” Brimmer says.

Dobbins agrees that the change may be permanent, and says there is also a growing awareness of the supernatural. “This provides a tremendous evangelistic opportunity as people tend to think of eternity and God more often and more seriously when they are frightened, as they are much more aware of the fragility of life and anxious about imminent death,” Dobbins says. “This automatically makes the subjects of eternity, God and Christ, much easier to talk about, even with people we don’t know.”


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