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 …

Churches Should Be More Like _____

Catherine A. Caimano's latest post suggests the church should be more like a gym.  As a clergyperson who serves as a denominational executive for the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, she regularly participates in the worship life of a number of congregations.  Based on the dissonance between her observations of how Sunday morning worship focused most local congregations are and her understanding of what a local community of faith should be, she suggests a shift is needed. Like a Read More …

The Shrinking Dreams: America & Church

In her recent article in The Atlantic, Marianne Cooper considered data from a number of recent surveys before concluding that "people are downsizing their definition of the American dream." More specifically, she notes that "the desire to own a home or to move up economically is often replaced by a desire to be debt free and to have financial stability." What Next? Cooper rightly suggests that this general shift in perspective is likely to have many long term negative consequences as Read More …

The Obsolete Church

Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou is an author, documentary filmmaker, public intellectual, organizer, pastor, and theologian.  In a recent interview, his response to Sarah Van Gelder's question about the role he sees for the churches now included these challenging words: We have a romantic view of the church . . . I think a church has a role to play, but this idea of the Church, with a big C, I think is obsolete. So What? I encounter extreme views of the Church (capital C church of American Read More …

American Church: Dying or Thriving Or ?

A few hours after I finished reading Greg Garrett's new book, My Church is NOT Dying: Episcopalians in the 21st Century, I encountered a recent LifeWay Research survey that included a question about how the American church is faring.  More specifically, participants were asked, "Which of the following trends do you believe describes church attendance today . . . declining, stable, dying, thriving, growing, or none of these?" Declining - 55% Stable - 51% Dying - 42% Thriving - Read More …

Sermon: An Opportune Time

Sermon Text: Ecclesiastes 3:1-6 Sermon Excerpt: A month before I graduated from seminary I started my first pastoral position.  I was one of the associate pastors in the oldest continually meeting Protestant congregation in Dallas, Texas.  My official job title was so long even I had a hard time remembering it.  It included elements of congregational redevelopment with an emphasis on reaching new people – especially those who were younger. For some reason people assumed that since I was Read More …

Celebrating 1,500 Posts

This is my 1,500th blog post here at So What Faith, which offers an appropriate  reason to to reflect.  As I do so, I want to thank my readers.  While you come from all over the world, the vast majority reside in the United States. Most Visits Originate  Florida California Texas New York Illinois After nearly 5 1/2 years of writing, I recognize just how unpredictable popularity can be.  In fact only a few of the posts I would have guessed would be among my most popular all time 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 …

Churches & Social Media

Meredith Gould is the author of The Social Media Gospel: Sharing the Good News in New Ways, which I named as one of my top books of 2013.  On a more personal level, I have benefited from her wisdom as a communications consultant and as the founder and frequent host of #chsocm. As the World Cup has progressed, I have been involved in more conversations about social media than usual.  Interestingly, this has even carried over into church life and conversation.  During this time I stumbled upon Read More …

Only in Church

Jon Acuff recently shared a short list of things that only happen in church: ask a stranger to scoot to the middle, hug people you don't really know, and shout phrases of encouragement when someone says something good. So What? As I read his post and skimmed some of the many comments on it, I realized the focus was primarily on worship.  While I am not part of a community of faith that practices shouting in worship (words of encouragement or otherwise!), I certainly have seen Read More …