December Book Recommedations

Dec books

During the last month I managed to work through a good deal of what was left on my list of books I hoped to read by the end of the year.  Ratings (on a scale of 1 to 5) follow. (5+) Churchless: Understanding Today's Unchurched and How to Connect with Them by Barna Group with George Barna and David Kinnaman as editors (2014) (5) Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World than Actually Changing the World by Eugene Cho (2014) (5) Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways Read More …

The Dones are Done

church refugees

Last week I wrote that the de-churched (those once involved in church who have stopped participating) not only account for 1 out of every 3 American adults, but are also the fastest growing group.  Soon after posting those thoughts, I encountered a rather discouraging word to categorize a significant portion of the de-churched: "dones." Thom Shultz, founder of Group Publishing and Lifetree Cafe, recently reflected on sociologist Josh Packard's talk about the "dones" at Group's Future of the Read More …

Church Turnaround: An Example

turnaround

Rick McKinley, Director of Congregational Development for the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church, recently shared an example of church turnaround.  While I encourage you to read his entire account, I want to focus on one significant shift: the role of pastor. Based on what they'd learned about themselves and their community, a strategic change in pastoral leadership was made. They were told that the new pastor wasn't going to hold their hand. Pastoral leadership as they knew Read More …

Immigration Questions

Immigration

After six years of back and forth about immigration and over 500 days after the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill, President Obama announced his broad executive action designed to provide temporary protection for 5 million undocumented immigrants that will ensure they are not deported.  The impacted immigrants will still need to wait on Congress to take action to provide a pathway to citizenship or another permanent opportunity to remain in the United States. In last night's Read More …

1 in 3 Americans are De-Churched

Dechurches

Churchlessness has been on the rise in American for quite some time growing from 30% during the 1990s to 33% during the 2000s before reaching 43% in 2014. These statistics appear as a part of an infographic on the first page of Churchless: Understanding Today's Unchurched and How to Connect with Them (2014) by the Barna Group with George Barna and David Kinnaman as general editors.  That same graphic continues with the image at right, breaking both the churched and unchurched into Read More …

Changes in Christian Affiliation in Latin America

Latin America

Last week the Pew Research Center released findings from their recent survey examining religious affiliations, beliefs and practices in 18 countries and one U.S. territory (Puerto Rico) across Latin America and the Caribbean.  While this region of the world is home to over 400 million Catholics (nearly 40% of the global total) and despite the popularity of the first Latin American Pope, affiliation with Catholicism is declining rapidly. Dramatic Decline From the 1900s through the 1960s Read More …

Back to Our Jesus-Roots

Crossan

John Dominic Crossan is among those who have shaped and continue to shape my understanding of who Jesus was and why that matters for me as one who seeks to earnestly follow the Way of Jesus.  His two most recent books have each made my top books of the year in the year they were published: The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction About Jesus (2012 Top Books List) and The Greatest Prayer Ever: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord’s Prayer (2010 Top Books List).  I Read More …

Worship: Mainline Church Planting Trends

Worship Style

The Ecumenical Partners in Outreach collaborated with the Center for Progressive Renewal to conduct the largest study (so far this century) of church planting activities in the major mainline churches of the US and Canada.  A 12 page summary of findings, available online free of charge, highlights eight key insights. Insight #7 Worship Matters (p.11) Time spent on worship relates strongly to growth, at least among traditional and new immigrant churches. Among alternative churches trying Read More …

Christian Belief in a Personal God

Personal God

Tobin Grant recently wrote an insightful article calling attention to the fact that just because American Christians believe in God does not mean that they believe in is a personal God.  Using data from the 2007 Religious Landscape Survey Grant provides graphical representations of what percentage of American Christians in each of 43 religious traditions believe in God followed by another illustrating what percentage of these believe in a personal God. Focusing on belief in a personal God Read More …

My New Role: Transitional Minister

GS FMUCC

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 …