Connecting with Historic Congregations

A year ago I was in Connecticut preaching and leading a Day of Discovery for leaders of  Westchester Congregational Church (founded in 1728) .  Yesterday I was in Grand Prairie, Texas preaching at West Fork Presbyterian (PCUSA) Church (founded in 1870).  Fifteen years ago I was preaching or assisting in leading worship at Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), which claims to be the oldest continually meeting Protestant congregation in Dallas, Texas (founded in 1863). These three Read More …

Politically Partisan Pastors

Over the last week I have seen one red, gray and blue graphic more than any other.  It seeks to tell the complex story of pastoral political affiliation in the United States in a single image. The widely shared graphic comes from Kevin Quealy's June 12 New York Times article "Your Rabbi? Probably a Democrat. Your Baptist Pastor? Probably a Republican. Your Priest? Who Knows."  Quealy's article reports on the most ambitious research of its kind, which was undertaken by Eitan D. Hersh and Read More …

Where’s Greg Worshipping?

Over the last twelve and a half months, I have attended 45 worship services in 34 different congregations. Denominations The chart at right illustrates the number of churches I have visited by denominational affiliation (green), the number of services I have attended in congregations affiliated with each denomination (blue), and the percent of all worship services I have attended by denomination (yellow). 75% of all of my worship experiences have occurred in congregations affiliated Read More …

My 2016 Search for a Church

How does someone with more than fifteen years of parish ministry experience search for a church when presented with the opportunity to connect with a community of faith as an active participant rather than serving as a pastor or staff member? In my case the answer is a work in progress. Last September I relocated to North Texas after living in Southwest Florida for eight years.  Immediately, my wife and I started our search for a church. Despite my travel for work, we have managed to Read More …

View from the Pew: 8 Sacred Spaces

Soon after relocating to Texas in September of 2015, I wrote "In Search of a Church," explaining a bit about the process my wife and I were undertaking to find a new community of faith to call our own.  During this process, I have posted a "view from the pew" photo most weeks on Facebook and Twitter. As someone who has spent most of his life working in a church and a good deal of that time in pastoral leadership, my ability to visit other congregations has been limited (and especially limited Read More …

Popular Presbyterians

Last week I happened upon a chart showing how common certain words related to mainline Protestantism appeared in the New York Times.   I was immediately intrigued to see that Presbyterians have received better coverage than others since 1860 and that the use of the term peaked in 1937, appearing that year in 2,149 articles. After determining how to create my own charts, I made one reflecting the names of the four traditions with which I have had formal affiliation:  Christian Church Read More …

Drive-In Church

After encountering several stories last week of walk up and drive through ashes for Ash Wednesday, it seems appropriate to start this week with the story of a new kind of church: the drive-in church.  Over the past few days several people sent me a link to Amy Kiley's piece on Daytona Beach Drive In Christian Church (Daytona Beach, FL), which holds worship services in an old drive-in theater.  From the comfort of their vehicles parishioners listen to worship on their radios.  When worship Read More …

Remembering My First Call

My first call after graduating seminary was to serve as Associate Pastor at Central Christian Church: the longest continually meeting Protestant congregation in Dallas, Texas.  This year, the congregation is celebrating its first 150 years of ministry.  That celebration has included numerous events. So What? Take a few minutes to remember your first experience of church - whether you were a child, a teen, or an adult.  How did that congregation help you on your journey of faith? What Read More …

From 5 Million to 4 Million

From 2001 to 2011, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lost just over 1 million members.  More specifically: 2001 Membership: 5,099,877 2011 Membership: 4,059,785 Membership Loss: 1,040,092 or 20.39% So What? The decline of the mainline is a popular topic, yet few are familiar with the dramatic nature of the numeric decline in membership and denominational funding.  While the numbers presented here reflect the change in the ELCA, similar decline is happening across the Read More …

Review of Mainline Christianity

Meet the Author Jason S. Lantzer is an adjunct professor of history at Indiana University, Purdue University and Butler University.  His BA (History & Political Science), MA (History) and Ph.D. (History) were all earned from Indiana University.  Lantzer is the author of two books: Prohibition Is Here to Stay: The Reverend Edward S. Shumaker and the Dry Crusade in America (2009) and Mainline Christianity: The Past and Future of America's Majority Faith (2012). Relevance For the last Read More …