In Search of a Church

Transition is the word that best describes my year so far. In March my wife, Susan, relocated from Naples, Florida to Denton, Texas for her dream job.  This summer we sold our three homes in Florida and bought one in Texas (where we plan to live after extensive renovations are completed) .  Last week I relocated to Texas to join Susan and to begin my new role overseeing employee education for a healthcare company. We are officially in search of a church (along with good restaurants, Read More …

Review of Religion for Atheists

  Meet the Author Alain de Botton is the founder and chairman of the School of Life and creative director of Living Architecture.  He is the author of numerous essays on a variety of topics as well as multiple best-selling books, including The Architecture of Happiness (2006) and How Proust Can Change Your Life (1997).  (I recently blogged about his TED talk on Atheism 2.0, which focuses on the theme of his latest book: Religion for Atheists.) Book Basics Alaine de Botton's Read More …

We Belong

"We belong" is a two word summary of the sermon I heard the Rev. Dr. Ronald Patterson preach yesterday.  That idea was so powerful that I chose to forgo the normal format for the sermon discussion group I have been facilitating the last several weeks. Patterson mentioned the first question in the Heidelberg Catechism (1563): What is your only comfort in life and in death?  He also shared and built upon the answer.  Our group, at my request, looked at the same issue through child-like eyes Read More …

Ministry in 2011

Jin An, IT Director at Quest Church and owner of 8 Four Consulting, recently wrote a guest piece for the New Media Project.  He begins his article with observations about what he knows of life in 2011, including "I can have church on my phone or laptop." So What? For years, many have taught that ministry modeled after Jesus should do as he did.  One implication of that philosophy is that those who follow the way of Jesus should meet people where they are.  An provides updated language that Read More …

Are You Listening?

The excuses for running through life without listening are many.  There is so much noise in our world that it is easy to be surrounded by sound without ever hearing a word or becoming aware of the origin of a unique sound.  It is rare for a person to slow down and heighten her or his awareness enough to discern the source and/or content of the sound(s), even when such is readily apparent. So What? There are days that I think silence is rare, but truly heard and well-processed sound is Read More …

Adjusting Expectations

In an article published by the Associated Baptist Press, Amy Butler, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington D.C., suggests that parishioners' expectations about church are often unrealistic.  She writes: I’m thinking specifically about the yawning divide between church members’ expectations and the reality of living in community. What is it really like to be the church, the gathered community of Christ? You know, the place where everybody loves each other, lives as witnesses to Read More …

More than the Buildings

Tari Stage-Harvey, pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Juneau, AK, recently wrote an article for the Juneau Empire suggesting that it is time for Christians to move beyond their fascination with church property and buildings.  She writes: Something happened in the history of Christianity where the assembly of Jesus’ followers fell in love with buildings. The building became church. The building became something we went to and often quickly exited so we could move on to Read More …

5 Smooth Stones of Liberal Religion

Unitarian Universalist minister James Luther Adams proposed five smooth stones of liberal religion in an essay entitled "Guiding Principles for a Free Faith," which was published in On Being Human Religiously: Selected Essays in Religion and Society (Max Stackhouse, ed. Beacon Press, 1976, pp. 12—20).  R. Lloyd Ryan summarizes JLA's smooth stones: Revelation is continuous. Relationships ought to rest on mutual and free consent. We need to work together for  just and loving Read More …

The Nature of the Church in the 21st Century

Cynthia Holder Rich is currently the Interim Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Muskegon, MI and serves on the Special Committee on the Nature of the Church in the 21st Century of the Presbyterian Church (USA).   In the latter role she posted five questions, which were developed by the committee: What is your vision for the church in the 21st century? What characteristics will draw the great diversity (racial ethnic, age, gender, etc.) of our country into our community of faith in the Read More …

Is Virtual Community Real Community?

While most followers of Jesus who have been on the journey of faith for many years grasp  both the theological and pragmatic need for community, newcomers to the faith may be unfamiliar with the concept given the increasingly individualistic society in which we live.  Many local congregations would benefit from a renewed focus on Christian community.  One helpful example of restoring an intentional emphasis is Our Savior's Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Circle Pines, Minnesota.  Under the leadership Read More …