Leaving Parish Ministry

For the last fifteen years I have served in a variety of parish based ministry positions in Mainline Protestant congregations ranging in size from a few hundred to a few thousand.  My job titles have included Director of Ministries with Children and Families Youth Director (and Youth Minister) Associate Pastor Interim Senior Pastor Transitional Pastor Director of Education (and Director of Adult Education). The job title I have held the greatest number of times is Director of Read More …

Congregational Age

While I was well aware  the United Church of Christ includes many historic congregations that were founded long before the denomination itself was created in 1957, I was surprised to learn that nearly 7 out of every 10 current congregations were organized before 1900 (69.1%).  Even more alarming is the fact that only around 1 in 10 were organized during the last 32 years (9.6%). So What? Congregational age matters.  While a denomination can benefit from congregations with diverse histories Read More …

One Man’s Greener Grass

Jason Savage's recent explanation of his decision to leave parish based ministry is an excellent example of the-grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence thinking. Savage is concerned by a decades long trend in the church toward what he calls "professionalism," a broad term that seems to include everything from leveraging the best marketing and management practices from the wider non-profit and for-profit world to accepting the evolving demands of leadership and roles of Read More …

Churches: Be Who You Are

David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church and founder of Church for Men, recently blogged about the strength that comes when churches know who they are and work within that framework.  For Murrow the importance of such was illustrated when he visited a traditional church that made a poor attempt at offering an occasional contemporary worship service.  His sound counsel for all local congregations follows: . . . be who you are. Do what you do well – and do it over and over. If you Read More …

Church Giving in the Future

The Spring 2013 edition of Leadership Journal focuses on money, emphasizing how congregations can fund ministries in ways that are consistent with their DNA.  While many articles within this edition's pages offer considerable practical insight two that consider the longer term are of particular note. In "Why I Won't Give to Your Church," Robert Jewe explains why as a 23-year-old he may hesitate to fund congregational ministry and mission (p.37).  His honest appeal requests that churches honor Read More …

Your Church’s Facebook Presence

Monk Development's "2013 State of the Church Online Report" contains data gathered from a diverse group of "over 50 churches spread across the United States" that seek to serve their congregation's through the web (p.2).  As I reviewed the report, I found myself returning again and again to a statistic that provides a benchmark for congregations seeking to develop a presence on Facebook.  According to Monk's research, "the average for likes vs. total weekly attendance (TWA) is 54%" Read More …

Amenities Over Ministry?

Tyler Kingkade's recent Huffington Post article considers a somewhat disturbing trend in higher education: increased investing in amenities like student services and activities, athletics and facilities.  His article considers research by The National Bureau of Economic Research published earlier in January as "College as Country Club: Do Colleges Cater to Students’ Preferences for Consumption?" So What? The cost of higher education keeps climbing higher and higher as does student loan Read More …

Future Church – More About Following

Church v.2020 - Ten Changes: #8 More About Following – Less About Membership When compared with the American church of 2012, the future church (v.2020) will focus more on following and less on membership.  This shift places the emphasis on following the way of Jesus rather than being a faithful member of a local church.  Toward this end, likely changes include: An approach to belonging and deepening individual's connection to the faith community that values assimilation into a community Read More …

Top Church Websites

Sharefaith recently posted their list of 22 Top Church Websites on Church Relevance.  The alphabetically ordered list includes: Church on the Move - Tulsa, OK Fellowship Church - Grapevine, TX Imago Dei Community - Portland, OR Hillsong Church - London, UK LifeChurch.tv - Edmond, OK Mars Hill Bible Church - Grandville, MI Second Presbyterian Church - Memphis, TN Watermark Community Church - Dallas, TX So What? The author notes that this updated list for 2012 is needed Read More …

Renter or Owner: The Mindset Matters

Robert Talbert, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Grand Valley State University, recently blogged about the difference between renting and owning.  After sharing his own experiences with home ownership and rental, he applies the principle to education suggesting that we all want students to own rather than rent their education.  He explains the different approaches thusly: The rental mindset says, I am paying the rent, and as long as I pay, I expect the management to take care of my needs. Read More …