Implied Institutional Messages

Jim Palmer, ordained minister turned activist  in the non-religious spirituality movement, offers several implied messages of the institutional church based on Marshall McLuhan's frequently quoted premise that the medium is the message.  The first three are especially troubling as we begin Holy Week: church is a place, a location, a building; Christianity happens in services, classes, meetings, events, and programs; and what people need most is good information about God. So Read More …

Young Adults = Non-Institutionally Oriented

The latest Pew Research Center report indicates that Millennials (those now ranging in age from 18 to 33), are unmoored from institutions.  This reality is seen most clearly in statistics relating to political preference (50% are independents), religious connection (29% are unaffiliated), and marriage (26% are married).  Both percentages have risen significantly in recent years. So What? The trend toward less and less institutional affiliation by America's youngest adults is either Read More …

Fastest Growing Group

D.J. Chuang, former Leadership Network Director for Asian-American Churches, recently co-authored an informative presentation for church leaders focused on the fastest growing group in the United States: Asian Americans.  Some of the many significant facts within that document are less than 5 years ago Asians overtook Hispanics as the largest immigrant group entering the United States, by 2011 over 18 million Americans self-identified as Asian American and the number is projected to Read More …

No Longer Taboo

Zack Perkins, a blogger who is "trying navigate Christianity as a Millennial through the Orthodox way," recently shared a list of five uncomfortable issues the church needs to talk more about: addiction, sexuality, sincere doubt, mental illness, and loneliness. So What? Perkins is right when he suggests that the items appearing on his list are "issues that individuals in the Church are dealing with—issues that the Church Body should be talking about." I am thankful that I have Read More …

Economic Benefits of Churches

Peter Haas is best known for planting an arts-oriented multi-site church called Substance, which has become one of the fastest growing and most youthful mega-churches in the United States.  Recently he blogged about some of the economic benefits of churches to their communities.  His list includes: An average sized church congregation adds “community services” equivalent to $115,009 per year. (e.g., Elderly care, Addiction recovery programs, after-school mentoring, etc) An average sized Read More …

Pastoring Isn’t Glamorous

Eugene Peterson (b.1932) is a pastor's pastor. He is the author of the best-selling The Message, which is his translation of the Bible into contemporary American language.  He is an ordained Presbyterian (PCUSA) pastor who served as the founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland for twenty-nine years before retiring in 1991. Following his retirement from parish ministry, he served in academia until retiring from that role in 2006.  Peterson is the author of over Read More …

WHCB: Summary & Next Steps

I have devoted most of my posts over the last week to exploring an important topic: "What's Holding Christianity Back."  Using a list of five items proposed by Christian Piatt, I considered church buildings, denominations, worship, church boards, and fear. So What? These factors are quite real.  They must not be ignored.  Reading these posts, pondering your own church experiences, and considering how an awareness of these issues may prove helpful as you live in the present with Read More …

WHCB: Church Boards

Christian Piatt includes church boards on his list of five things that are holding Christianity back.  He suggests that church boards tend to attract and retain the same small group of leaders, and favor a style that relies heavily on a democratic vote for decision making. Reality Check Most congregations have term limits for those serving on the church boards and standing committees.  While those rules help ensure no one person remains a part of such a group for decades, it does not stop Read More …

Sermon: Reuniting Old Friends

Sermon Text Ephesians 2:19-22 Sermon Excerpt The so-called religious right has sought to make their version of Christianity the only authorized American version.  While many within this group market a message that suggests a literal approach to the Bible is the only correct approach, the general public are not embracing that news.  In fact, only 3 in 10 people approach Scripture with a highly literal interpretative framework, and an understanding that it is the actual word of Read More …

WHCB: Church Buildings

Christian Piatt includes church buildings on his list of five things that are holding Christianity back.  He suggests that "they have become an albatross rather than an asset." Reality Check Most American congregations own buildings.  The costs associated with maintaining these structures is significant. In congregations that are in the midst of extended periods of plateau or experiencing years of declining membership, the percentage of the annual budget needed for their upkeep Read More …