Top 10 Books of 2014

Top Books

Since 2010, I have published an annual list of my top ten books published that year (each list contains a link to a book review for each book mentioned): 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.   My top ten books for 2014 (in alphabetical order by author’s last name) are   Marcus Borg Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most Walter Brueggemann Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now Amy-Jill Levine Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Read More …

Religious Symbols on National Flags

Switzerland-Flag

According to a new Pew Research analysis, a third of the world's countries have national flags that contain religious symbols.  The 64 flags with religious imagery can be categorized by religion as follows: Christianity - 31 Islam - 21 Other Religions - 6 Hinduism/Buddhism - 3 Buddhism - 2 Judaism - 1. So What? According to data gathered a few years ago by Pew Research, more than half of the global population are adherents to one of the world's two largest religions: Read More …

My Visit to Family Church

worship 1

No church on Marco Island (FL) has been in the news as often as Family Church has in recent years.  Unfortunately, the recent publicity has not been positive.  Their last senior minister cast a grand vision that led to the construction of the a 500 seat technologically up to date and aesthetically welcoming sacred space where this community of faith now worships, and he also oversaw the fundraising effort associated with this sizable project.  Currently the church is in court facing a Read More …

Attracting the Churchless

What Works

Long ago I stopped counting how many times people have asked me what they need to do to help their congregation grow.  Thankfully most who ask this of me are not primarily interested in transfer growth (sometimes called "sheep stealing" or more nicely redistribution) that comes when churched people choose to shift their allegiance from their current faith community to a new one.  Most of my questioners are genuinely interested in helping their church welcome new people who are currently not Read More …

Celebrating 1,500 Posts

1500

This is my 1,500th blog post here at So What Faith, which offers an appropriate  reason to to reflect.  As I do so, I want to thank my readers.  While you come from all over the world, the vast majority reside in the United States. Most Visits Originate  Florida California Texas New York Illinois After nearly 5 1/2 years of writing, I recognize just how unpredictable popularity can be.  In fact only a few of the posts I would have guessed would be among my most popular all time Read More …

The McMass Project

McMass

Almost every day I encounter a religious story that is unusual or simply odd. About once a week I find a religious story that requires time to process.  Roughly once a month I encounter a story for which I have no prior frame of reference.  This last group tends to linger in my mind, and often leads me to start some interesting conversations. Introducing the Project The McMass project is among the most out there ideas I have encountered this year.  When a colleague first forwarded me the Read More …

December Book Recommedations

Dec books

During the last month I managed to work through a good deal of what was left on my list of books I hoped to read by the end of the year.  Ratings (on a scale of 1 to 5) follow. (5+) Churchless: Understanding Today's Unchurched and How to Connect with Them by Barna Group with George Barna and David Kinnaman as editors (2014) (5) Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World than Actually Changing the World by Eugene Cho (2014) (5) Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways Read More …

The Dones are Done

church refugees

Last week I wrote that the de-churched (those once involved in church who have stopped participating) not only account for 1 out of every 3 American adults, but are also the fastest growing group.  Soon after posting those thoughts, I encountered a rather discouraging word to categorize a significant portion of the de-churched: "dones." Thom Shultz, founder of Group Publishing and Lifetree Cafe, recently reflected on sociologist Josh Packard's talk about the "dones" at Group's Future of the Read More …

Church Turnaround: An Example

turnaround

Rick McKinley, Director of Congregational Development for the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church, recently shared an example of church turnaround.  While I encourage you to read his entire account, I want to focus on one significant shift: the role of pastor. Based on what they'd learned about themselves and their community, a strategic change in pastoral leadership was made. They were told that the new pastor wasn't going to hold their hand. Pastoral leadership as they knew Read More …

Immigration Questions

Immigration

After six years of back and forth about immigration and over 500 days after the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill, President Obama announced his broad executive action designed to provide temporary protection for 5 million undocumented immigrants that will ensure they are not deported.  The impacted immigrants will still need to wait on Congress to take action to provide a pathway to citizenship or another permanent opportunity to remain in the United States. In last night's Read More …