A Personal Experience of God

spong

In his latest essay, Bishop John Shelby Spong explores how it is one can know God: The fact is that I do believe in God deeply and profoundly, but I cannot tell you either who God is or what God is. Nor do I think that anyone else can do so either. All any of us can ever do is to tell others how we believe we have experienced God. God and our experience of God are not the same. So What? The only way one can know God is to experience God.  This understanding can be refined in many ways, Read More …

Fort Myers Congregational UCC

FMUCC

    This summer continues to be marked by new opportunities.  I am currently spending four Sundays (July 20, July 27, August 3, and August 10) as the guest preacher at Fort Myers Congregational UCC (Fort Myers, FL). Check out last Sunday's message: "A Holy Invitation."       Read More …

The Day the Mainline Disappeared

thermometer

According to a new Pew Research Survey: People think more positively about their own religious groups, or about groups that their friends belong to, and On a scale of warmest/most positive feelings to coolest/least positive feelings, Americans have warm feelings toward Jews, Catholics and Evangelical Christians, neutral feelings about Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons, and cooler feelings toward Muslims and atheists. While this data is interesting, it is also troubling.  As a lifelong Read More …

Living the American Dream?

American Dream

Price tag for the American dream: $130K a year.  The first few times I encountered that statement on social media, I dismissed it.  Finally, I decided to check out the story or, more precisely, read Howard R. Gold's July 4, 2014, USA TODAY article with that title. While I hesitate to define the American dream solely in economic terms, I recognize it is the simplest place to begin.  Household finances have become an area of greater concern and awareness thanks to the Great Recession.  This Read More …

Churches & Social Media

mgould

Meredith Gould is the author of The Social Media Gospel: Sharing the Good News in New Ways, which I named as one of my top books of 2013.  On a more personal level, I have benefited from her wisdom as a communications consultant and as the founder and frequent host of #chsocm. As the World Cup has progressed, I have been involved in more conversations about social media than usual.  Interestingly, this has even carried over into church life and conversation.  During this time I stumbled upon Read More …

End of the White Majority

Public Schools

I have always been (and will always be) a non-Hispanic white person. I am well aware of the shifts in the American culture. Even so, I only recently learned that the next school year will be the first year when non-Hispanic white people will no longer be the majority in the public schools in the United States. So What? The chart at right offers a visual representation of what has happened as well as what is projected to happen according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Read More …

Vital Christianity

Gushee

David Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life Mercer University, recently shared his vision of vital Christianity.  It is this sort of Christianity to which Gushee himself is drawn, and it is the type of Christianity he believes will be attractive in a post-Christian America. In short, vital Christianity as I see it is Christ-centered and wholly committed, passionate, loving and just, personally and socially Read More …

How Long is Long Enough?

time left

While one may rightly argue that worship should last a lifetime, corporate worship gatherings/services/experiences typically have specified start times along with relatively fixed end times.  In my experience the most common length has been 60 minutes. I have, however, been a part of a congregation that tended toward 65-75 minutes. Recently, I read an article about Trinity Memorial Lutheran Church's decision to begin offering a new 30-minute-or-less worship service. This new addition to their Read More …

July Book Recommendations

June books

The last few weeks have been a time of transition for me.  I have used the occasion to read the books in my "must read" stack, which had been growing for some time.  They follow in the order I have rated them (using a 1-5 scale). (5+) The Rebirthing of God: Christianity's Struggle for New Beginnings by John Philip Newell (2014) (5) We Make the Road by Walking by Brian D. McLaren (2014) (5) Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now by Walter Brueggemann (2014) (4.5) Got Read More …

Sermon: The Next Chapter

Next Chapter

Ephesians 2:14-22 (The Message) Sermon Excerpt A few weeks ago, Susan and I participated in Hodges University’s annual commencement ceremony.  As professors, we know quite well how much the graduating class and their families look forward to that special occasion.  This year we listened to remarks from a member of the graduating class and from a faculty member. While those short addresses were interesting, the one speech this year’s graduates are most likely to remember is the Read More …