Toward Church Renewal

Five Tips

Cameron Trimble, CEO of the Center for Progressive Renewal, recently offered five suggestions to aid in the work of congregational renewal: Stop settling for mediocre worship. Turn members into ministers, not managers. Create environments of innovation. Seminaries are great, but we need more learning partners. Start embracing technology. I agree with Trimble that each of these is an important step toward renewal.  Furthermore, I believe the time for conversation that doesn't lead Read More …

Sermon: For the Love of God

Chapel

Sermon Text: John 4:19-24 Sermon Excerpt The Bishop who inspired our sermon series that concludes today claims that “without passion, worship becomes dry, routine, boring, and predictable, keeping the form while lacking the spirit.” Several of the good folks within our community of faith have already shared some of their concerns with me about the idea that passionate worship is normative in healthy, growing congregations. One of you told me, “I don’t get why in some churches people Read More …

A “So What” Faith

A So What Faith

We are blessed to live in the Information Age – an era when any one can access an incredible amount of information.  We are also stressed by this abundance knowing that simple Google searches yield millions of results, televisions feature hundreds of channels, phones and tablets often have dozens of apps, and previously one-way media communications have now branched out in every direction imaginable through something we call social media. Everything is the same; everything is changing.  Read More …

Passing the Peace / Greeting

Peace_be_with_you

Hearing someone in a nearby pew say, "The peace of Christ be with you," is a normal part of worship in most mainline Protestant Churches.  Erin Lane recently wrote a blog post sharing her experience of how awkward and stressful passing the peace was for her when attending worship by herself. She writes: Passing the peace was hands down the loneliest ritual I endured as a solo worshipper. . . waiting my turn for someone to turn toward me during the passing of the peace? Excruciating. (Okay, Read More …

Sermon: Going All In

Going All In

Sermon Text: Mark 12:41-44 Sermon Excerpt I think it is about time we return to the little stewardship booklet I mentioned earlier so that I can ask a second quiz question. This one allows you to play the role of subject matter expert. A new church member wants to know how much he or she should give to the church. You say: “That’s a very important decision. So important that I could not possibly advise you on it.” “Pick a number—any number.” “What I do is take a percentage of my Read More …

Remembering Marcus Borg

Borg Dinner

I knew Marcus Borg primarily through his writings.  He is the only person to be featured on my top ten books of the year list four times (the following links are to the annual listings and to my specific book reviews when available) 2010 - Putting Away Childish Things, 2011 - Speaking Christian, 2012 - Evolution of the Word, and 2014 - Convictions. Patheos has created a page featuring remembrances of Marcus Borg by a long and diverse list of folks including Brian McLaren, Jenny Read More …

Sermon: A Community of Risk Takers

risk

Sermon Text: I Corinthians 12:1, 4-12, 25-27 (The Message) Sermon Excerpt: Thank you.  Thanks Jim, Barb, and David.  I appreciate not only that you said “yes” when presented an opportunity to speak, but also the many ways you have given generously of your time and talent. Together we are inviting you to join with us for the year ahead by committing to risk-taking mission and service.  This is one of the five practices of fruitful congregations.  The author of the book that has helped Read More …

Effective Leaders Ask for Feedback

feedback

Over the years I have encountered people in functional leadership roles who discouraged feedback, those who tolerated feedback, and others who welcomed and valued feedback to such a degree they were intentional about seeking it from a wide variety of constituents on a regular basis.  Unfortunately I have had both bosses and mentors suggest that while there is a role for feedback it should be limited as excessive requests suggest that one lacks vision and the drive needed to move oneself and Read More …

Sermon: Growing Together

JOF

Sermon Text: Acts 2:42 Sermon Excerpt Lifelong learning is as popular a phrase in Southwest Florida as anywhere in our country.  For the last few years I taught at a University that has an active Center for Lifelong Learning and I have been on staff at a large congregation that provides numerous general education events that fit within the framework of lifelong learning. This is all well and good, but is not enough for us as those who follow the Way of Jesus.  As disciples, we must be Read More …

Progressive Christianity in 2015

2015

Nearly half a month into 2015 the newness of a new year is fading.  Those who made New Year's resolutions are either beginning to let them go or firmly engaged in their pursuit in ways that are sustainable. Tom Ehrich proposed a list of three faith trends for 2015 topped by "memories are fading."  Ehrich believes Christianity in the present and future will benefit by fewer and fewer Christians having memories of the boom time in American Christianity back in the 1950s.  He has rightly Read More …