What is the Purpose of a Sermon?

Scot McKnight's latest blog entry invites discussion: What is the Purpose of a Sermon?  McKnight, a New Testament scholar as well as a prolific author and blogger, asks the question as he follows those who are live blogging about a preaching conference at Mars Hill with Rob Bell, Pete Rollins, and Shane Hipps. So What? Share your answer to the question: What is the purpose of a sermon?  For me a part of the answer must be in the so what.  If I hear what sounded like a great sermon, but Read More …

Review of What Americans Really Believe

Stark, Rodney.  What Americans Really Believe.  Baylor University Press, 2008.  ISBN: 978-1-60258-178-4. Meet the Author Since 2004, Rodney Stark has been a University Professor in Social Sciences and the Co-Director of the Institute of Studies of Religion at Baylor University.  Stark is an American sociologist of religion who previously taught for over thirty years at the University of Washington.  To learn more visit his personal website or see his curriculum vitae.   Book Read More …

To Twist or Not to Twist

In the July/August edition of Youth Worker Journal, Patton Dodd wrote an article about twisting Scripture in Children's Ministry.  He and his wife taught Sunday School for a four and five year old class and were surprised to learn that the lesson on John the Baptist instructed them to "teach the main point that John the Baptist told the crowds, 'Jesus is God's Son,' as John the Baptist did, and telling them that they, like John, are supposed to carry that message into the world."  The surprise Read More …

Obama’s New Church

Have you ever wondered how a President selects which church to attend?  Apparently many more people are concerned with what church Obama chooses than the selection or discernment process leading to that choice.  Back in February, Andrew Santella wrote, "Since before Election Day, Washington pastors have been lining up to invite the first family into their flock, and outlets from PBS to the Wall Street Journal have taken their turn handicapping the many contending congregations. Despite all of Read More …

Review of Quitting Church

Duin, Julia.  Quitting Church: Why the Faithful Are Fleeing and What to Do about it.  Baker Books, 2008.  ISBN: 978-0-8010-6823-2. Meet the Author Julia Duin is the religion editor for the Washington Times.  She has a master's degree in religion from Trinity School for Ministry (an Episcopal seminary) and has covered the beat for three decades.  Duin has won numerous awards and been nominated twice for a Pulitzer. Book Basics  "It's no secret that the percentage of Americans in Read More …

The End of the Bible?

The Digital Possibility For many years churchgoers have carried a Bible to church, but with the increasing popularity of electronic options it is no longer necessary to carry an extra item to church in order to have access to Scripture.   Tim Challies has written a number of recent posts on his blog in a series titled Don't Bring Your Ipod to Church.  Of greatest interest to me is his June 12 entry in which he writes about the "disturbing trend—Christians coming to church armed not with a Read More …

Review of Mutual Empowerment

Breazeale, Kathlyn A.  Mutual Empowerment: A Theology of Marriage, Intimacy, and Redemption.  Fortress Press, 2008.  ISBN: 978-0-8006-2039-4. Meet the Author Kathlyn A. Breazeale is Associate Professor of Religion at Pacific Lutheran University.    Book Basics Some of the most influential ideas informing marriage are traditional Christian ones. Kathlyn Breazeale, reframes marriage in light of a generation of theological insights, from feminists and process theologians. She shows Read More …

The Church on Facebook

Lenora Rand's article in the June 30, 2009 Christian Century is titled The Church on Facebook: Why we Need Virtual Community.  This article helps one consider the role of the online world in creating Christian community.  More specifically, what how can facebook be utilized as a resource toward that end. Facebook is a popular social networking site.  According to statistics from the site's press room. facebook has: Over 200 million users Over 100 million users who log in at least once a Read More …

Changing Beliefs

Survey Says A recent study by the Barna group found that 71% of U.S. adults develop their own religious beliefs rather than accept the teachings of a particular church or denomination.  That statistic goes hand in hand with 45% who are "willing to try a new church" and 64% who are "completely open to carrying out and pursuing your faith in an environment or structure that differs from that of a typical church". So What? These statistics suggest that we are living in a postdenominational Read More …

Review of So Beautiful

Sweet, Leonard. So Beautiful: Divine Design for Life and the Church.   David C. Cook, 2009.  ISBN: 978-1-4347-9979-1. Meet the Author Leonard Sweet is the E. Stanley Jones professor of evangelism at Drew University, was voted one of the 50 Most Influential Christians in America, and continues to write and speak prophetically about the church.  An ordained United Methodist pastor, Sweet has authored over 20 books and 600 articles, and is perhaps best known for his forward thinking ideas Read More …