Millions More Leaving Organized Religion

Portland Seattle

The rise of the nones (those people claiming no religious affiliation) has been a popular topic of conversation since well before I started this blog in 2009.  As one who has long been involved in leadership positions within so-called organized religion, I find this ongoing shift has significant implications for Christian communities of faith. Earlier this month the Public Religion Research Institute shared the latest statistic: 22% of American adults are now nones.  There are, however, many Read More …

Sermon: Concert of Prayer

Concert_of_Prayer

Sermon Text: Matthew 6:5-13 Sermon Excerpt The Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father is a model for prayer.  While you can pray through it quickly as we do in worship, it is also a rich resource for a slower form of prayer. If you look at the chart I placed in your bulletin you will see that the prayer begins with an introduction and ends with a conclusion.  In between, in the body of the prayer, there are seven petitions.  The first three focus on God.  The final four focus on Read More …

Leaders Clear Obstacles

Obstacle

Dave Odom, Executive Director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School, recently explained an important yet often underdeveloped and under-appreciated aspect of leadership: clearing obstacles.  After leaders set vision and motivate people to move toward that vision, they must also be intentional about assisting people in moving forward by removing or helping to remove obstacles that emerge in their paths. Odom explains: In my experience, the senior management of larger organizations Read More …

Ignored Announcements

announcement

Every congregation I have served has included a time for announcements prior to each service of worship (in one parish the timing varied and such would occasionally shift to the end of the service).  These verbal announcements are easily ignored and usually ineffective.  Recognizing this I have previously shared some best practices, mentioned the 80% rule as one way to cut down the number of verbal announcements, and even passed along a hyperbolic description of announcements as one of the Read More …

Safe Church: Screening Volunteers

safe_church_

The first time I helped create a Safe Church Policy (called a Child Protection Policy at that time) I was still in seminary.  In the years since, I have been involved in the drafting, implementing, evaluating, and updating of such policies in many congregations. While I am thankful that nearly every church now has such a policy, I am troubled that the number is less than 100%.  I am also concerned by stories of churches that have such policies but don't follow them or regularly make Read More …

Sermon: Titleless

humility

Sermon Text:  Philippians 2:1-11 (The Message) Sermon Excerpt  One day a lion, proud of his mastery of the animal kingdom decided to make sure all the other animals knew he was king of the jungle.  He was so confident that he bypassed the smaller animals and went straight for the bear. “Who is the king of the jungle?” the lion asked.  The bear replied, “Why, you are, of course.”  The lion gave a mighty roar of approval. Then he asked the tiger, “Who is the king of the jungle?”  The Read More …

Welcoming Transgender People

extravagant-logo

Almost every local congregation thinks of their community of faith as friendly and welcoming.  Open and affirming congregations tend to view their houses of worship as offering an extravagant welcome to all people.  In reality, however, both groups often fall short of these ideals. For congregations that strive to welcome all people, Shannon Kearns' recent article is filled with practical insight related to welcoming transgender people.  Shannon shares seven questions that will help open and Read More …

Sermon: The Gift of Children

First Kid's 2012 Christmas Party and Talent Show by First Baptist Nashville available from https://www.flickr.com/photos/firstbaptistnashville/8270411592

Sermon Text: Mark 10:13-16 Sermon Excerpt In many churches the simplest way to identify which rooms are intended for children and which are reserved for adults is to observe the size of the furniture.  Since so many of you are parents and grandparents, I hope you know that children are not miniature adults. Some of the adults here have talked to me about our recent use of many different versions of the Lord’s Prayer.  The most common comment is that this variety has led you to really Read More …

From Mainline to Sideline to Oldline

Tobin Grant

I grew up in a Mainline Protestant congregation.  The congregation I was raised in belonged to one of the seven sisters of Mainline American Protestantism: the Congregational Church (now a part of the United Church of Christ), the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, the American Baptist Convention, and the Disciples of Christ. While my childhood congregation has remained a part of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Read More …

Sermon: Our Lenten Creed

No Creed

Sermon Text: Mark 12:28-31 Sermon Excerpt I have one Christian education activity I use more than any other to help Christians work through what Christianity is all about.  I have facilitated it in many churches with youth and also with adults. This is how it works.  Those gathered are divided into small groups of five to eight people.  Each small group is asked to create a list of what it is one must believe to be labeled a Christian.  The only rule is that for any item to make the Read More …