The Hardest Part of Being a Christian

Being a student is often a way of life. At times, it can be hard work.  Some courses are especially challenging. A few days ago I asked my Facebook friends to share the most challenging and/or difficult course they had ever taken.   In less than 24 hours, 60 people had named a course.  The most popular challenging courses were those in science, mathematics, and languages. Science - 12 responses (top course: chemistry) Mathematics - 18 responses (top course: statistics) Languages - 11 Read More …

Top Posts of 2015 (Jan-Jun)

In a few days the second half of the year will begin.  The most popular posts here on So What Faith so far this year (based on total number of views of posts published in 2015) are Effective Leaders Ask for Feedback, World Religions in 2050, Toward Church Renewal, From Mainline to Sideline to Oldline, and Top 10 Faith Enriching Books. Statistical Curiosities The list includes two posts from January, two from February, and one from April.   Each post was tagged with a primary Read More …

Sermon: Growing Together

Sermon Text: Acts 2:42 Sermon Excerpt Lifelong learning is as popular a phrase in Southwest Florida as anywhere in our country.  For the last few years I taught at a University that has an active Center for Lifelong Learning and I have been on staff at a large congregation that provides numerous general education events that fit within the framework of lifelong learning. This is all well and good, but is not enough for us as those who follow the Way of Jesus.  As disciples, we must be Read More …

It’s Time to Contribute

Aaron Loy, founding pastor of Mosaic Lincoln (Lincoln, NE), recently blogged about some of the really bad reasons people use to justify leaving a church.  In explaining his first reason, "I'm not being fed," Loy reminds readers that church should not be primarily about being a religious consumer. To leave a church because you’re not getting "enough" is a cop out. Your primary call in the church is to contribute, not just to consume. As a Christian, you shouldn’t require spoon-feeding for the Read More …

Sermon: Growing Together

Sermon Text: Acts 2:42 Sermon Excerpt I grew up in the church.  More specifically, I was raised in the Presbyterian Church.  As a child, I knew that there was one big hurdle between where I was and the world my parents and other adults inhabited: confirmation. In order to become a member, I had to complete a lengthy educational experience led by a rather intimidating woman:  The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Johnson Pense.  It didn’t seem fair to me that she taught religion to university students Read More …

Sermon: Authentic Discipleship

Today I have the privilege of preaching at United Church of Marco Island.  My sermon texts are Psalm 1 and Luke 14:25-33. Sermon Excerpt Which of you would plan to build a new custom home without creating a detailed budget, and ensuring you have the necessary funds to complete construction? If you do not count the cost and only partially build the home, then it will be worthless and you will be the laughing-stock of your community. Or can you imagine the leader of a powerful nation Read More …

Things to Hate About Spiritual Formation

John Ortberg is the Senior Pastor of the 4,000 member Menlo Park Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) and the author of multiple books on spiritual formation.  Recently in a Leadership Journal article, he revealed 7 things he hates about spiritual formation.  His list includes: I hate how spiritual formation gets positioned as an optional pursuit for a small special interest group within the church, and I hate it when we forget that the goal is producing truly good people, not becoming experts at Read More …

A New Vision for Christian Education

Yesterday, I spent a good deal of my day at church.  After worship, the Board of Christian Education gathered in a meeting room for a five hour retreat focused on planning for the future.  While a summary of of those proceedings will likely fill many pages, one sentence sets the tone for the future: Vision: To have as many participants each week in educational experiences as are present in worship. While retaining high quality standards, our congregation's educational programs for children, Read More …

Review of Shaping the Journey

Meet the Authors Richard R. Dunn and Jana L. Sundene both have experience as professors and in parish ministry.  Dunn is lead pastor at Fellowship Evangelical Free Church (Knoxville, TN), and formerly served as chair of educational ministries at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  Sundene serves on the leadership team of the Vine Christian Community (Long Grove, IL), and is associate professor of Christian ministries at Trinity College. Book Basics Given the limited literature on Read More …

The Only Jesus

I have heard people with widely divergent theological perspectives utter the same message on many occasions: you may be the only Jesus others see.  In the parish I serve, the senior minister often challenges the congregation to live into this truth. So What? For those who follow the way of Jesus, the quest should be a 24/7/365 venture.  How do the words "you may be the only Jesus someone sees today" inspire you to live out your faith?   Read More …