American Idols: Gods of the Region - An Open Letter to My Christian Kin


Chris Hughes’ ministerial career includes university chaplaincies, itinerant evangelism, youth curriculum through the United Methodist Publishing House, jurisdictional age-level ministries at Lake Junaluska, 25 years of leading Confirmation retreats, and pastoring local churches.

His recent book is pastoral, prophetic, and confessional – a response to the apparent practice of believing in Jesus while refusing to embody him, to claim him as one’s savior from an eternity in the afterlife while doing what seems right to us in this life. Just as Joshua warned the Hebrew people as they prepared to enter the Promised Land, we are prone to worship the “gods of the region.” We want to fit in, do well, and provide for our families. We also want to be “right” instead of righteous. We want to justify our sinfulness. We worship at the altars of self-achievement, money, and nationalism. Contrary to the Way of The Prince of Peace, we remain convinced that “might makes right” and that there is such a thing as “good violence.” Even our worship of the Bible (or at least selected passages) above Jesus, The Word of God in the flesh, can become idolatrous. Other topics include “Cult of Personality,” “Alternate Realities,” and “Denying Science.”

Author Chris Hughes explains his intentions this way, “On the one hand, scripture admonishes us (in Galatians 5:26) not to provoke one another to the point of anger and hostility. On the other hand, we are urged to “provoke one another to doing good (Hebrews 10:24). I hope I have done both in this book.”

American Idols: Gods of the Region includes questions for reflection and discussion at the end of each chapter. This would be a great resource for small group studies and for fostering interpersonal conversations. It also includes a “A Service of Confession, Repentance, Forgiveness, and Commitment.”
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Chris Hughes

Resources for Vital Congregations



Lewis Center for Church Leadership

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor

GBHEM Leadership Resources


Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church

Englewood Book Review

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations

Ted Talks: The Golden Circle

Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability

Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability

Design Thinking

Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians


Be A Disciple

A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network

Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations


Living As United Methodist Christians

Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials

Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today

John Wesley Sermons: Anthology


Get Their Name

Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit

Canoeing the Mountains

Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People

Community: The Structure of Belonging


Institute for Emerging Issues

Congregations 4 Children


The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants

The Duke Endowment


The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:

  • Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
  • Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.

We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at


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