More Than Commas

The United Church of Christ has long been known as the church of the comma.  That campaign resonated with me to the degree that I have (and have often worn!) a comma pin. I have also said the line attributed to Gracie Allen on many occasions: "Never place a period where God has placed a comma."  In short, I appreciate the reminder that God is still speaking. New Punctuation Since God is still speaking the United Church of Christ's latest additions to the punctuation serve both to expand Read More …

Small Congregations – Big Challenges

While I have spent most of my life affiliated with large congregations, I realize that there are more small congregations than large ones and that small congregations increasingly face big challenges. The FACT The 2015 FACT (Faith Communities Today) research (American Congregations 2015: Thriving and Surviving) was published earlier this month.  It is the latest survey in a series that started in 2000, and was repeated in 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2015.  Since the 2015 survey includes Read More …

Top Religions by State

There are many ways to look at America's top religions. The Public Religion Research Institute's new American Values Atlas offers a helpful way to consider the religious makeup of the United States on both a national and state level. National Perspective As a whole the top three religions in our country are Catholic - 22% Religiously unaffiliated - 22% White Evangelical Protestants - 18%. Personal Experience I have spent my life in Texas and Florida.  The largest religion Read More …

Completing the Dream

More than fifty years have passed since Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I have a dream" speech in 1963.  While there are many signs of progress toward racial equality that progress is inadequate, incomplete and inconsistent.  Far too much work remains yet unfinished. Next Steps The work of moving our nation forward requires everyone's involvement.  As a white male I need to become more intentional about knowing who I am and how I can help. Over the weekend I read Jim Wallis' new Read More …

Returning to the Classroom

2016 is well underway. In just a few more days I will return to the virtual university classroom.  This semester I will be teaching two completely full sections of Introduction to World Religions at Hodges University (my 16th and 17th times to teach a course on world religions since accepting this adjunct role in 2011).   So What? Most regular readers of my blog are religiously literate about their own religion.  I wonder, however, how religiously literate you are when it comes Read More …

My 2016 Search for a Church

How does someone with more than fifteen years of parish ministry experience search for a church when presented with the opportunity to connect with a community of faith as an active participant rather than serving as a pastor or staff member? In my case the answer is a work in progress. Last September I relocated to North Texas after living in Southwest Florida for eight years.  Immediately, my wife and I started our search for a church. Despite my travel for work, we have managed to Read More …

View from the Pew: 8 Sacred Spaces

Soon after relocating to Texas in September of 2015, I wrote "In Search of a Church," explaining a bit about the process my wife and I were undertaking to find a new community of faith to call our own.  During this process, I have posted a "view from the pew" photo most weeks on Facebook and Twitter. As someone who has spent most of his life working in a church and a good deal of that time in pastoral leadership, my ability to visit other congregations has been limited (and especially limited Read More …

Top 5 Posts of 2015

My most popular posts written in 2015 (according to the number of page views during this calendar year) are Sermon: Lost –> Found –> Party Effective Leaders Ask for Feedback Leaving Parish Ministry World Religions from 2010 to 2050 Leaders Clear Obstacles So What? Leadership is the only topic to appear more than once on this year's list. While four of last year's top posts related to worship, only one worship related post made this year's list. Which of these five Read More …

Top 10 Books of 2015

Welcome to the sixth annual edition of my top books of the year. To qualify for the list, the book must be published in 2015, I must have read the book, and the content of the book resonated with and significantly enriched me and/or my understanding of the subject. Diana Butler Bass Grounded: Finding God in the World - A Spiritual Revolution Ron Clark Move Your Bus: An Extraordinary New Approach to Accelerating Success in Work and Life John Dominic Crossan How to Read More …

Last Blog Post

This will be my last blog post for awhile . . . History Six years and four months ago, I launched this site.  At that time, I never imagined that I would become a prolific blogger who would author 1,600 blog posts (an average of just over 250 a year!).  I also had not given any real consideration to what my life might look like if I were not employed by a church. Happening Now After serving Mainline Protestant congregations for fifteen years in a variety of capacities, I am Read More …