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 …

Learning from Others

Pope Francis

Last week the Dallas Morning News ran an article comprised of answers to a question asked by Fr. Joshua Whitfield at St. Rita Parish (Catholic) in Dallas, Texas: Who is someone from another faith tradition either another denomination or another faith altogether that has inspired you, shaped you, or formed you in your own faith? And why is it a good thing to read and study others outside your own faith tradition? Answers A sampling of responses includes Darrell Bock, a Christian who Read More …

Sermon: An Opportune Time

Future

Sermon Text: Ecclesiastes 3:1-6 Sermon Excerpt: A month before I graduated from seminary I started my first pastoral position.  I was one of the associate pastors in the oldest continually meeting Protestant congregation in Dallas, Texas.  My official job title was so long even I had a hard time remembering it.  It included elements of congregational redevelopment with an emphasis on reaching new people – especially those who were younger. For some reason people assumed that since I was Read More …

Toward Church Renewal

Five Tips

Cameron Trimble, CEO of the Center for Progressive Renewal, recently offered five suggestions to aid in the work of congregational renewal: Stop settling for mediocre worship. Turn members into ministers, not managers. Create environments of innovation. Seminaries are great, but we need more learning partners. Start embracing technology. I agree with Trimble that each of these is an important step toward renewal.  Furthermore, I believe the time for conversation that doesn't lead Read More …

Sermon: For the Love of God

Chapel

Sermon Text: John 4:19-24 Sermon Excerpt The Bishop who inspired our sermon series that concludes today claims that “without passion, worship becomes dry, routine, boring, and predictable, keeping the form while lacking the spirit.” Several of the good folks within our community of faith have already shared some of their concerns with me about the idea that passionate worship is normative in healthy, growing congregations. One of you told me, “I don’t get why in some churches people Read More …

A “So What” Faith

A So What Faith

We are blessed to live in the Information Age – an era when any one can access an incredible amount of information.  We are also stressed by this abundance knowing that simple Google searches yield millions of results, televisions feature hundreds of channels, phones and tablets often have dozens of apps, and previously one-way media communications have now branched out in every direction imaginable through something we call social media. Everything is the same; everything is changing.  Read More …

Passing the Peace / Greeting

Peace_be_with_you

Hearing someone in a nearby pew say, "The peace of Christ be with you," is a normal part of worship in most mainline Protestant Churches.  Erin Lane recently wrote a blog post sharing her experience of how awkward and stressful passing the peace was for her when attending worship by herself. She writes: Passing the peace was hands down the loneliest ritual I endured as a solo worshipper. . . waiting my turn for someone to turn toward me during the passing of the peace? Excruciating. (Okay, Read More …

Sermon: Going All In

Going All In

Sermon Text: Mark 12:41-44 Sermon Excerpt I think it is about time we return to the little stewardship booklet I mentioned earlier so that I can ask a second quiz question. This one allows you to play the role of subject matter expert. A new church member wants to know how much he or she should give to the church. You say: “That’s a very important decision. So important that I could not possibly advise you on it.” “Pick a number—any number.” “What I do is take a percentage of my Read More …

Remembering Marcus Borg

Borg Dinner

I knew Marcus Borg primarily through his writings.  He is the only person to be featured on my top ten books of the year list four times (the following links are to the annual listings and to my specific book reviews when available) 2010 - Putting Away Childish Things, 2011 - Speaking Christian, 2012 - Evolution of the Word, and 2014 - Convictions. Patheos has created a page featuring remembrances of Marcus Borg by a long and diverse list of folks including Brian McLaren, Jenny Read More …