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 …

View from the Pew: 12 Sacred Spaces

Most followers of the Way of Jesus have a primary sacred space in which they gather for corporate worship.  Opportunities to experience elsewhere with another group of people are typically few and far between. While these words describe the norm, I have been living the exception since last September.  Over the last several months I have visited a new sacred space and worshiped with a new community of faith most weeks. Previously, I have shared images of my earliest experiences on this Read More …

Less Really is More

My own journey from conspicuous consumption to intentional minimalism didn't get started until the fourth decade of my life.  For me the first lessons that less really can be more came when I relocated across the country in 2007 to a place with far more expensive housing than anything I had ever experienced.  (If you want to learn more about what this has been like for me I invite you to check out "How Much is Enough.") It seems the desire to live more simply often begins at home.  For Joshua Read More …

My Summer Vacation Worship Report

While there are many creative ways that young people write reports about their summer vacations that creativity rarely extends into adulthood.  Rather than attempt such an ambitious project, I offer some insight into one hour of my summer vacation: worship at Naples United Church of Christ. Under Construction No church is ever complete. No community of faith has ever arrived.  Every congregation is always under construction. Given these theological assertions, I was pleasantly surprised Read More …

Post-Christendom Reality Check

I recently finished reading Weird Church: Welcome to the Twenty-First Century (Pilgrim Press, 2016) by Beth Ann Estock and Paul Nixon.  The book is an important read because it offers a fresh approach to the transition for Christendom to post-Christendom based on Spiral Dynamics alongside numerous examples of ways congregations are already innovating and how such innovations offer hope for the future. The End Christendom is over.  There is no debate about that among those who take Read More …

Search for a Church: 9 Months & Counting

Last September following a move across the country my wife and I began to search for a church.  That search is ongoing.  To date we have reviewed the websites of 40+ Mainline Protestant congregations in our area identified 26 congregations for visits visited 23 congregations and planned visits to the 3 remaining congregations selected 5 congregations that appear possible matches and committed to visiting each a second time this summer Several key categories help me process my Read More …