Mainline Protestantism = Old

Until around the year 2000 I always thought of the group of churches to which I have belonged as Mainline or Mainline Protestant.  Over the last several years I have heard a variety of terms used that convey the considerable decline in membership and cultural capital. Data from the Pew Religious Landscape Study shows just how old the Mainline/Sidelined/Oldline Protestant traditions have become.   Mainline Denomination Median  Age Percent of Members Age Read More …

Search for a Church: The Final Four

The search for a church for my family is nearing completion.  After visiting 30 churches in our geographic area, my wife and I have agreed to consider four as possible communities of faith for intentional and ongoing involvement. For obvious reasons I won't name the congregations.  I will, however, share that they don't all look alike: Memberships range from 120 to around 2000 Average weekly worship attendance ranges from 75 to around 1,000 (in 1 to 4 services) Senior pastor tenure Read More …

Mid-Year Update – Popular Posts

According to Google analytics statistics for So What Faith (based on view counts from January 1 to present) Most popular blog posts published in 2016 Search for a Church: 9 Months & Counting (May) Mainline Members – Political Leanings (February) My 2016 Search for a Church (January) Reflections on Average Worship Attendance (February) Top Religions by State (January) View from the Pew: 12 Sacred Spaces (June) Most popular posts so far in 2016 (regardless of date of Read More …

Take Sides – Seek Justice

Faith without works is dead (see James 2:17 if you want a Christian text to support the claim). I am not big on religious language, but sometimes it just makes sense. Some Christian traditions include prayers of confession that mention sins or wrongs of omission alongside those of commission. Sins or wrongs of omission - of not acting - are just as troublesome as those of commission. Take a Side I was saddened over the weekend to learn of the passing Holocaust survivor and Nobel Read More …

View from the Pew: 12 Sacred Spaces

Most followers of the Way of Jesus have a primary sacred space in which they gather for corporate worship.  Opportunities to experience elsewhere with another group of people are typically few and far between. While these words describe the norm, I have been living the exception since last September.  Over the last several months I have visited a new sacred space and worshiped with a new community of faith most weeks. Previously, I have shared images of my earliest experiences on this Read More …

Be the Church

Not being the church should not be an option. All who follow the Way of Jesus are called to be authentic in their following by being themselves, being proud, and being the church. It is always time to co-create with God; make real God's realm on earth; and advocate for justice for all of God's people. So What? Being the church is never an individual adventure; it is always a shared journey.  It requires a genuine concern for all humans and a commitment to embody love for God Read More …

Less Really is More

My own journey from conspicuous consumption to intentional minimalism didn't get started until the fourth decade of my life.  For me the first lessons that less really can be more came when I relocated across the country in 2007 to a place with far more expensive housing than anything I had ever experienced.  (If you want to learn more about what this has been like for me I invite you to check out "How Much is Enough.") It seems the desire to live more simply often begins at home.  For Joshua Read More …

My Summer Vacation Worship Report

While there are many creative ways that young people write reports about their summer vacations that creativity rarely extends into adulthood.  Rather than attempt such an ambitious project, I offer some insight into one hour of my summer vacation: worship at Naples United Church of Christ. Under Construction No church is ever complete. No community of faith has ever arrived.  Every congregation is always under construction. Given these theological assertions, I was pleasantly surprised Read More …

Post-Christendom Reality Check

I recently finished reading Weird Church: Welcome to the Twenty-First Century (Pilgrim Press, 2016) by Beth Ann Estock and Paul Nixon.  The book is an important read because it offers a fresh approach to the transition for Christendom to post-Christendom based on Spiral Dynamics alongside numerous examples of ways congregations are already innovating and how such innovations offer hope for the future. The End Christendom is over.  There is no debate about that among those who take Read More …

The Disappearing Religious Gender Gap

It is relatively well known that America is a more religious country than most and that in America women are significantly more religious than men based on most traditional measures of religious belief and behavior. When I discuss religious behavior with a variety of audiences one measure resonates more than any other: attending religious services.  New research suggests that the once wide gender gap in religious service is now narrowing. More specifically, it was was cut in half from 1982 to Read More …