Mid-Year Update – Popular Posts

According to Google analytics statistics for So What Faith (based on view counts from January 1 to present) Most popular blog posts published in 2016 Search for a Church: 9 Months & Counting (May) Mainline Members – Political Leanings (February) My 2016 Search for a Church (January) Reflections on Average Worship Attendance (February) Top Religions by State (January) View from the Pew: 12 Sacred Spaces (June) Most popular posts so far in 2016 (regardless of date of Read More …

Sermon: Concert of Prayer

Sermon Text: Matthew 6:5-13 Sermon Excerpt The Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father is a model for prayer.  While you can pray through it quickly as we do in worship, it is also a rich resource for a slower form of prayer. If you look at the chart I placed in your bulletin you will see that the prayer begins with an introduction and ends with a conclusion.  In between, in the body of the prayer, there are seven petitions.  The first three focus on God.  The final four focus on Read More …

Americans Pray For

Results of a new LifeWay survey suggest that Americans tend to focus their prayers on themselves and close family and friends rather than the well being of the world or people or causes that are beyond their immediate influence.  More specifically, when given the opportunity to select as many things from a list as they wished, participants indicated they prayed most for family or friends - 82%, own problems and difficulties - 74%, good things that have recently occurred - 54%, and own Read More …

Connecting Beyond the Local Church

Davida Foy Crabtree completes her service as the Interim Conference Minister for the Florida Conference of the United Church of Christ later this month.  As one who has benefited from her leadership, I share her parting prayer (the prayer originally circulated in the e-Celebrate newsletter dated September 3, 2014): Behold, God, your Conference, the United Church of Christ in Florida! Filled with life and hope, struggling at times to see the future, but faithful and strong, these Your people are Read More …

Drive-Through Prayer

After last week's piece about a drive-in church, the idea of drive-through prayer doesn't seem strange at all.  Estero United Methodist Church, a church near where I live, is providing drive-through prayer every Wednesday evening from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m through April.  Since they are located on a busy road, discipleship director John Halley considers it to be "one way to put ourselves out there and to give folks the opportunity to come by and receive the blessing of prayer." So Read More …

Pastoral Prayer: Love

I wrote this pastoral prayer for today's worship services at the Naples United Church of Christ.  This unique service is the conclusion of a three day weekend event, "The Romance of Faith," which featured Diana Butler Bass.  For this service, her sermon title is "The Journey of Love," and text is Song of Songs 8:6-7. In the tradition of this congregation the pastoral prayer includes a call to prayer, silent prayer, and then the pastoral prayer.  The call to prayer connects all present with Read More …

Sermon: A Concert of Prayer

Sermon Text: Matthew 6:5-14 Sermon Excerpt Prayer becomes a part of people’s lives in many ways.  What is your story? How did you come to learn of prayer? When did you begin to pray? Maybe you remember childhood prayers – your own or those of your children or grandchildren.  Simple prayers like . . . Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen. OR . . . Perhaps as a youngster you were taught to Read More …

Review of Catching Fire, Becoming Flame

Meet the Author Albert Haase is a popular preacher in both Catholic and Protestant churches, a teacher of spiritual formation and spiritual direction, and the co-host of the weekly radio show, "Spirit and Life."   Haase is the author of eight books on popular spirituality, including Instruments of Christ: Reflections on the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi (2011), The Sacred Moment: Becoming Holy Right Where You Are (2010), and Living the Lord's Prayer: The Way of Read More …

Prayer Lists & Privacy

For years, most congregations have created and distributed printed prayer lists.  As technology has changed the way data is shared, many congregations have updated how they share these lists with interested parishioners. Jonathan Webster is a minister who coordinates chaplaincy and bioethics services for the Western Division of Carilion Clinic, and who serves as adjunct faculty at Jefferson College of Health Sciences and Radford University. He recently wrote about this topic for his Read More …

Pastoral Prayer for Sept. 15

I offered the following pastoral prayer yesterday on the occasion of my first Sunday in a new interim ministry role. Alpha and Omega, you are the beginning and the end.  You alone see the world without the boundary of time.  Those of us who live with the burden of time measure our days and count our hours.  We consult our calendars and manage our moments.  Help us to overcome the tendency to confuse busyness with blessedness. God of new beginnings who is making all things new come into our Read More …