The Fading American Dream

Are you living the American Dream? Most people consider several variables when constructing a personal response to whether or not they and their families are living the American Dream.  Rather than address all such factors, I invite you to consider the economic component. A couple of years ago I shared information that suggested the economic piece of living the American Dream required an income of at least $130K for a family of four. Yesterday I read a NY Times editorial that referenced Read More …

How Important is Religion in America?

Imagine if all American adults were represented by a town comprised of only 100 people.  In this small community, what would religion look like? Earlier this month the Pew Research Center published an article by Aleksandra Sandstrom and Becka A. Alper that answered the question by providing infographics built from data about religious beliefs and behaviors based on the 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study. For the question, "How important is religion?" the respondents answered: very: Read More …

My New (Church) Year’s Resolutions

A few days ago I suggested that Advent is a time for a new perspective. As the start of the church year, it is also a great time to plan for what is ahead. While such planning can take many forms, I have chosen to embrace a practice more commonly associated with the changing of calendar years: adopting new year's resolutions. Looking Back As I look back at this blog, I find that I have publicly declared resolutions a few times 2012 - I made several resolutions, but wrote about one: Read More …

Time for a New Perspective

Last week, I relocated to a new office at work.  While the move was only a few hundred feet, the change in perspective has been considerable. Think about your own experience of familiar places. How long you have been living in your current residence, worshipping in the same sacred space, and working in the same office. When did you become so comfortable in each that you stopped paying attention to some of the details? So What? Changing our physical location often allows us to Read More …

Pray with Your Feet & Heal with Your Hands

Since the election, I have read more strongly worded articles and heard more passionately preached sermons than in any other two week period I can recall.  Luke A. Powery, dean of Duke Chapel and an associate professor of the practice of homiletics at Duke Divinity School, preached a sermon that is now available online in written form that falls into both categories yet also moves beyond them. Powery's "There's Work to Do; or, An Open Letter to My Children" is a call to action that is Read More …

Dwindling Membership: The United Church of Christ from 1965-2015

While I consider myself a post-denominational follower of the Way of Jesus, I have spent the most of the last six years involved in the life of congregations affiliated with the United Church of Christ.  This Mainline Protestant denomination has experienced a significant decline in membership over the last 50 years from over 2 million members in 1965 to under 1 million members in 2015. The graph at right shows the denomination's total membership by year in blue and the percent change or Read More …

In Politics and Beyond, #LoveUltimatelyWins

Love wins. "Love wins" is not just for hashtags or bumper-stickers.  It is more than a statement; it is a way of being - a way intended for everyone all the time.  It is a part of what it means for the kin-dom of God to be real for all people on the earth. Today many of my dearest friends are disappointed by the result of the U.S. Presidential election.  I stand with them in naming Trump's vocabulary for what it has consistently been: opposed to the message of love wins. Bishop Dwayne Read More …

Clergy = Not Trusted?

According to a recent Pew Research Center Report clergy and other religious leaders are not as trusted to act in the best interest of the public as are many other groups.  More specifically, the percentage of American adults who say they have either "a great deal" or "a fair amount" of confidence that a group will act in the interest of the public follows: Medical Scientists - 84% Military - 79% Scientists - 76% K-12 Principals and Superintendents - 66% Religious Leaders - Read More …

Christian Worship + Nationalism = ?

Over the last year I have worshipped in 34 different congregations primarily in congregations affiliated with Mainline Protestant denominations (with most of these in United Methodist, Presbyterian - PCUSA, Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ, and Episcopal churches).  From my pew or chair in most of the sanctuaries or other sacred spaces where the services were held I could see two flags: an American flag and a Christian flag. Only once, however, did the American flag play an important Read More …

Church Giving – The 55/45 Rule

Leadership Network recently published an insightful article by Chris Willard and Warren Bird focused on giving metrics in the context of congregational ministry.  This piece mentions something I think should be called the 55/45 rule. This rule comes from research conducted by David Thoroughman, CEO of the donor analytics firm MortarStone.  Thoroughman found that, on average, 99% of a congregation's funding comes from giving units that give $200 or more a year but only 55% of all attendees Read More …