View from the Pew: 8 New Sacred Spaces

As someone who has spent most of my adult life serving local congregations, the opportunities to visit other faith communities for worship have been few and far between.  In recent months, however, I have been able to participate in worship in many sacred spaces as a guest. In my final post of 2015 I shared eight images from my "view from the pew" series.  Since the start of 2016, I have been fortunate enough to visit an additional eight congregations.  Images of these experiences Read More …

Keep Creating

Rob Bell's new book: How to Be Here: A Guide to Create a Life Worth Living (HarperOne, 2016) is as thoughtful as it is thought provoking.  When I get around to officially rating it, I will certainly give it 5 stars. Always Creating Just a few pages into the first part of the book in a section titled "Ex Nihilo-ness," Bell offers this wisdom about our ongoing creative role as humans: You create your life.  You get to shape it, form it, steer it, make it into something . . .  What you do Read More …

Search for a Church – Taking Recommendations

Almost every study I have ever read finds that at least 3 out of every 4 people find a new church because of a recommendation. More specifically, someone already involved in a community of faith invited them to visit. So What? Now that my search for a church is in its fifth month, I am taking recommendations. In other words, feel free to invite me to your church - especially if you really think I would be a good fit. (If you have no idea whether or not I would be a good fit simply share Read More …

Search for a Church – Under Construction

The house my wife and I purchased late last summer has been under construction for the last six months.  For the last five months, our search for a church has also been an ongoing experience.  The construction at home has given me new eyes with which to observe the various faith communities  at home and to recognize that whether thriving, declining or somewhere in between each congregation is also under construction. So What? We know better than to look for a perfect church.  Instead, we Read More …

Unique Opportunity to Learn About World Religions

Religious literacy is an essential interpersonal competency for all who seek to live well and to relate effectively to other people.  The lack of basic religious literacy continues to fuel isolation, hate, and even violence. My belief that all people need to expand their religious literacy beyond their own religion to the world's great religions has inspired me to teach world religions at the college level eighteen times (and counting!). While I cannot invite you to audit my class, I can Read More …

Mainline Members – Political Leanings

If you know much about American Christianity, you may expect Mainline Protestants to be more likely to have more liberal political leanings than the average American.  The Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study affords an unparalleled look at this topic by breaking down many of the larger religious denominations by what political party their members self-identify as leaning toward or with which they affiliate. Among all US adults the survey found that 37% are or lean Republican, Read More …

Love Your Non-Christian Neighbor

I fondly remember taking a course called "Contemporary Theologies of Mission" from Dr. Rob Sellers in seminary (Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Seminary).  It was a class that transformed my perspective on what mission can and should look like in the twenty-first century, especially that which is done in God's name by those who seek to follow the Way of Jesus. Earlier this week, I happened upon Ken Camp's recent article in the Baptist Standard that summarized Sellers' remarks about loving Read More …

Recent Reading: Politics & Bible

Politics are everywhere; I have yet to spend more than a few seconds scanning my social media feeds before encountering a political remark. Political experts are everywhere; 99% of the political remarks I read and hear are communicated as though the communicator is a subject matter expert.  In reality, of course, most are simply people who have strong feelings about their particular perspectives. Political writing is particularly popular.  As a non-expert, I have read three books this year Read More …

Reflections on Average Worship Attendance

Most American churches have relatively small memberships.  Since the accuracy of membership roles varies widely, average weekly worship attendance is often used to compare congregational size. Median American congregation has 75 attend weekly worship (National Congregations Survey) Average American congregation has 186 attend weekly worship (US Congregational Survey) Half (50%) of all church attendance is accounted for by the largest 10% of congregations - those with 350+ average weekly Read More …

Closing the Clergy Gender Pay Gap

Equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land in the USA for my entire life.  That legal expectation, however, has not translated into actual dollar per dollar gender equality. In fact, the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicates women earn just $0.83 for every dollar men earn. American Clergy Since the Christian church holds equality of all persons as a core value, one should reasonably expect it would be a model of pay equality.  Unfortunately, the pay gap for clergy is Read More …