In Politics and Beyond, #LoveUltimatelyWins

Love wins. "Love wins" is not just for hashtags or bumper-stickers.  It is more than a statement; it is a way of being - a way intended for everyone all the time.  It is a part of what it means for the kin-dom of God to be real for all people on the earth. Today many of my dearest friends are disappointed by the result of the U.S. Presidential election.  I stand with them in naming Trump's vocabulary for what it has consistently been: opposed to the message of love wins. Bishop Dwayne Read More …

Christian Worship + Nationalism = ?

Over the last year I have worshipped in 34 different congregations primarily in congregations affiliated with Mainline Protestant denominations (with most of these in United Methodist, Presbyterian - PCUSA, Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ, and Episcopal churches).  From my pew or chair in most of the sanctuaries or other sacred spaces where the services were held I could see two flags: an American flag and a Christian flag. Only once, however, did the American flag play an important Read More …

Where’s Greg Worshipping?

Over the last twelve and a half months, I have attended 45 worship services in 34 different congregations. Denominations The chart at right illustrates the number of churches I have visited by denominational affiliation (green), the number of services I have attended in congregations affiliated with each denomination (blue), and the percent of all worship services I have attended by denomination (yellow). 75% of all of my worship experiences have occurred in congregations affiliated Read More …

Shaping the Future of Christianity

Dying Some say Christianity is dying.  I won't argue with them.  If Christianity is defined narrowly and if it should be replicated in every time and place in identical ways then we can rest assured Christianity is dying and will soon be dead. Living Christianity, inasmuch as I understand what the Way of Jesus is about, is living.  The only way any person or group of people can authentically live as followers of Jesus is to do so within their time and place. Thriving Sociologists Read More …

Day of Discovery

  In recent years Westchester Congregational Church (founded in 1728) has faced many of the same challenges as other small town churches in the USA.  These shifts led to declines in membership and participation. Background Less than two decades after reaching a point when some felt that WCC was close to closing its doors and ending its ministry, the congregation called Ron Thompson to serve as its full-time pastor.  One year later, the church is growing and ready to begin Read More …

Creativity in Learning

Last week I attended a conference in San Diego, California.  It was a wonderful opportunity to network with other learning leaders, share best practices, attend insightful sessions and workshops, and listen to challenging keynotes - including one by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (co-founders of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream) that introduced Stamp Stampede 2.0 focused on getting money out and voters in to American politics. The experience inspired and challenged me; it also surprised me.  As a Read More …

Following the Teachings of Jesus

For the last few decades I have been learning about and seeking to follow the example of the Way of Jesus.  Occasionally I encounter words that are so real, so relevant, and so riveting that they capture my attention and help me refocus. The following words, taken from the second article of First Congregational (UCC) Church of Santa Barbara's Statement of Faith, have played that role in my life in recent days: We strive to follow the teachings of Jesus by practicing love and forgiveness, Read More …

Perspective: Visiting Dozens of Churches

Over the first four decades of my life I had the opportunity to participate in worship in around 30 different communities of faith (not counting those I joined on special occasions or for events other than their normal weekly services).  Most of my adult life was spent serving congregations in a variety of lay and pastoral positions. Over the past twelve months I have participated in worship in over 30 different communities of faith in Texas during one of their normal Sunday services.  This Read More …

Search for a Church: The Final Four

The search for a church for my family is nearing completion.  After visiting 30 churches in our geographic area, my wife and I have agreed to consider four as possible communities of faith for intentional and ongoing involvement. For obvious reasons I won't name the congregations.  I will, however, share that they don't all look alike: Memberships range from 120 to around 2000 Average weekly worship attendance ranges from 75 to around 1,000 (in 1 to 4 services) Senior pastor tenure Read More …

Take Sides – Seek Justice

Faith without works is dead (see James 2:17 if you want a Christian text to support the claim). I am not big on religious language, but sometimes it just makes sense. Some Christian traditions include prayers of confession that mention sins or wrongs of omission alongside those of commission. Sins or wrongs of omission - of not acting - are just as troublesome as those of commission. Take a Side I was saddened over the weekend to learn of the passing Holocaust survivor and Nobel Read More …