Christmas Story: Fact or Fable?

Over the years I have encountered many passionate people who were not only certain they held the only proper perspective about the Christmas story, but were equally committed to converting others to share such a view.  Interestingly, I have been involved in numerous one-on-one and group conversations with those who were certain the Christmas story is a fact as it is recorded in the Gospels and also with those who are certain the story is just a fable. Marcus Borg, a progressive Christian Read More …

My New Role: Transitional Minister

I am delighted to announce that effective January 1, 2015 I will begin a new role as Transitional Senior Minister at Fort Myers Congregational UCC (Fort Myers, FL). Process Their current minister, Rev. Phil White, is retiring at the end of this year after serving in that role for the last decade.  I have known Phil for several years, and am thankful he extended an invitation to me to serve as a guest preacher this summer. July 20: A Holy Invitation July 27: Persisting for the Read More …

Large Church Salaries

Perhaps you had to read the title of this post more than once.  Typically, salaries paid to church workers (both lay and ordained staff) are not large.  In this post, I consider the latest information on how large churches compensate those they employ based on the Leadership Network / Vanderbloemen 2014 Large Church Salary Report, which was written by Warren Bird. Large churches continue to be far more likely to be growing than smaller churches.  This data finds that roughly 3 in 4 large Read More …

Summer Shifts

Summer has always been one of my favorite seasons of the year.  It is also a time when many people temporarily shift their normal routine.  I will be making shifts in several areas for the summer, including: Blogging I have published one blog post a day for the last 10 months, and a total of 1,450 since launching this blog in 2009.  This will be my last daily post for the summer.  I will continue to post on occasion rather than taking a month off as I did last year (a much needed break Read More …

Friday Fun: Church Laws

Most people welcome something fun or, better yet, funny as the end of a work week approaches.  Rather than deal with the touchy topic of Friday the 13th, I instead share a few of the strangest church laws found in our land. In Boston, it is against the law to eat peanuts while in church. In Omaha, it's illegal to sneeze or burp during a church service. In Texas, it is illegal to go to church in disguise. In Mississippi, private citizens may arrest anyone who disturbs a church Read More …

Learning from Trader Joe’s

Becca Messman, associate pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church (Herndon, VA), recently wrote about how the church could learn from her favorite grocery store: Trader Joe's.  Her piece, published in the Presbyterian Outlook, considers how Presbyterians would do well to study this "quirky, small-by-design chain of grocery stores that is clearly not trying to be any of its competitors."  Her suggestions, of course, transcend her denominational affiliation. Messman recommends that churches learn Read More …

Commencement Wisdom

Graduation season has arrived.  Whether you are attending a commencement ceremony this year or not, you can benefit from a the wisdom of over 300 of the most notable commencement speeches ever given in the United States (1774-2013).  This incredible resource was compiled by NPR. The Dalai Lama's remarks at Tulane last year made the list as did 26 other 2013 speeches.  In his speech, the Dalai Lama said I heard you mention your own state and your own nation – that’s wonderful and as it should Read More …

Who Are You?

Last week I modified the words of what I found to be an intriguing Facebook status, and used the new version as a status update. My version read "Share your insight: use 1 word to describe me. (Don't repeat any words already used.)" According to the results, I am keen, organized, smart, pensive, brilliant, intelligent, focused, diplomatic, efficient, gregarious, contemplative, energetic, thoughtful, innovator, friend, spirited, believer, son, and minister.  Additionally - and certainly worthy Read More …

What Do You Call Yourself?

Douglas Lobb, retired minister and former executive secretary of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, recently wrote about an increasingly challenging and vitally important term often used as a means of identifying oneself with the Way of Jesus: Christian (The Congregationalist, Dec. 2013, p.21-23).  Relating his own experience, Lobb writes: In the light of today's Christian world, I find that I have great difficulty calling myself a Christian; because what is Read More …

Angry Men with Fearful Minds

Philip Gulley, popular Christian author and pastor of the Fairfield Friends Meeting (near Indianapolis, IN), used his most recent "Back Home Again" essay in  Indianapolis Monthly to consider the prevalence of griping in our country - especially griping done by white men.  The words he uses to conclude his essay captured my attention and led me to return to his article on multiple occasions as I pondered just what this might mean for me:  . . . for reasons I do not fully understand but fully Read More …