Sermon: Shifting Spiritualities

spirituality

Sermon Text: John 6:35 Sermon Excerpt . . .the dominant spirituality in our country back in the 1950s was a spirituality of dwelling.  Church was at the center of society. In many places, churches were literally at the center of town.  They were one of three pillars of stability along with small town life, and Americanism. This was the height of church building and expansion projects.  These larger spaces were needed because increasing percentages of Americans were joining local Read More …

Growing Seminaries

Enrollment Growth

Nearly every regular reader of this blog is well aware that American Christianity has been in decline for many years.  Given this reality one would expect that seminary enrollment would also be declining since this schooling is often required of those seeking ordination (and in traditions where such advanced degrees are not required they have long been an attractive and helpful professional credential).  According to a new report from the Association of Theological Schools, more than 1 in 3 Read More …

A Call for Marriage Equality

National-Weekend-of-Prayer

Currently I serve as Transitional Minister at Fort Myers Congregational United Church of Christ.  In March of 2013 our congregation became the denomination's 1090th Open and Affirming congregation.  Earlier this year we rejoiced when marriage equality arrived in Florida.  We are hopeful that it will soon become a national reality. The following is an excerpt from the portion of yesterday's worship service focused on marriage equality in support of the Religious Institute's National Weekend of Read More …

Sermon: How Much is Enough?

How much is enough concept

Sermon Text: Luke 12:13-21 Sermon Excerpt Robert and Edward Skidelsky are two academics who happen to be father and son. Together they wrote a book that shares a title with this sermon: How Much is Enough (2012). The subtitle of the book is equally important: Money and the Good Life. So why do I bring this text to your attention?  Because the Skidelsky's get it.  They are on to something that sounds a lot like the wisdom of Jesus in this morning's parable. In a consumer oriented Read More …

Over-Programming vs Under-Programming

simplify

Churches excel in programming and many church members (and especially church leaders!) delight in talking about their programming. In many cases the programs are advertised with carefully constructed marketing pieces that present aesthetically pleasing menus of opportunities for prospective participants. The Voice of Experience I have served in several congregations that assumed more was better (also that bigger was better if and when possible).  As a lay program staff member in multiple Read More …

Education Level & Declining Church Attendance

Church Attendance

As I read W. Bradford Wilcox's recent Acts of Faith article in the Washington Post I found myself drawn to a graph illustrating a decline in church attendance.  While the decline in American church attendance in America since the mid-1970s is well documented and much discussed by lay religious folks and scholars alike, few have given any real consideration to how the rate of decline differs based on education. A few years ago I shared W. Bradford Wilcox's finding that "since the 1970s, white Read More …

Religion & Self-Identity

Generational

Barna recently conducted research into what most influences the self-identity of Americans.  In order, the top three influences are family, country (being American), and religious faith. Religion Matters While religion still ranks ahead of ethnic group, career, state of residence, and city/town of residence, it is a distant third to family and country. While a majority of Americans claim that family and their country are central to their identity, fewer than two out of five Read More …

Sermon: Your Healing Touch

Charter-for-compassion-logo

Sermon Text: Luke 8:40-56 Sermon Excerpt Have you heard about people who claim to heal in Jesus’ name by doing very unusual things?  Perhaps in flipping through channels on your television you have stopped on a curious sight only to find yourself watching a faith healer in action. Today there are more odd options than ever before.  In my own limited quest for understanding I have found one man to be the strangest of all.  This so-called man of God is best known for holding what he calls Read More …

Megachuches in America

Megachurches in America

When I first saw the image at right I immediately realized I have spent my entire life living in two of three states atop the list of states with the most megachurches in America.  While I have visited several such churches, my professional experience has been in smaller congregations (though dominantly in those significantly larger than most American congregations). Mega-Interesting  The term megachurch was first used in print in 1983 in the Miami Herald, Protestant megachurches are Read More …

World Religions from 2010 to 2050

Global Pop

Last week the Pew Research Center released projections for how the makeup of the world's largest religions are likely to shift between now and 2050.  These projections rely on complicated assumptions and modeling designed over the last six years by team of demographers from the Pew Research Center (Washington, D.C.), and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Laxenburg, Austria). Globally between 2010 and 2050: world population will increase by 35%, number of Muslims Read More …