Most Popular Sermons

We are now almost two weeks into the second half of the year known as 2015.  A few weeks ago I shared my most popular blog posts from the first half of the year.  Today, I offer my most popular sermons from the first half of the year (based on YouTube views) in lieu of new sermon content since I am on vacation and not preaching this morning. Titleless - watch / read - a 13 min. message on humility Surprising Salaries - watch / read - a 12 min. message on the Parable of the Laborers in the Read More …

Sermon: The Easter Difference

Sermon Text: Matthew 28:1-10 Sermon Excerpt Think about how the day begins.  The two Mary’s know that Jesus is dead.  The future they had been planning for themselves died with Jesus.  They were mourning.  In the midst of their grief they did the only thing they knew to do; they went where Jesus was. While all four Gospel writers include this story, only Matthew features special effects that would play well to a modern audience, especially on the big screen.  One contemporary paraphrase Read More …

More Church at Easter or Christmas?

Many local churches see dramatic increases in worship attendance at Christmas and Easter.  Perhaps then it isn't surprising to learn that people Google the word church more during Christmas week and Easter week than on any other weeks of the year.  More specifically, over the last ten years more Americans have searched the word church during Easter week than at any other time of year (Christmas, of course, came in second). So What? While many churches do an excellent job of targeted Read More …

Sermon: The Easter Difference

Text: Matthew 28:1-10 Sermon Excerpt Pam Driesell, a Presbyterian pastor, tells a story of her good friend Mary’s recent Easter experience.  To make sure her four-year old daughter Elena really understood what Easter is all about Mary tried talking to her about it. "Mommy, will the Easter bunny bring me purple jelly beans?" I am sure he will bring you jelly beans, Elena. But, remember, Easter isn't about the bunny. It's about Jesus. "But will they be purple?" Yes, honey, I am Read More …

Don’t Believe Easter, Live It

David Henson, a candidate for Holy Orders in the Episcopal Church who received his Master of Arts from Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, CA), recently wrote what has become for me the most thought provoking post I have read this year on the topic of Easter.  He writes: Frankly, I don’t care if you believe Jesus was literally or metaphorically resurrected. And neither does Easter. I find it laughable we try to reduce the power of Easter to a proposition, as if the resurrection could be a Read More …

Living the Overflow

Preparing Nearly everyone knows that more people attend worship in churches on Christmas and Easter than at any other time.  Many churches add services to welcome the larger than usual crowds.  Regardless of congregational size, most leadership bodies opt to do whatever is possible to make all who come feel welcome (including ensuring each guest has a seat). At Naples United Church of Christ, we opted to take a rather traditional approach by adding: Services - expanding from two to Read More …

An Easter Correction

On Easter Sunday I expect a great deal of news focused on the Pope.  Given the way Pope Francis has sought to be a different kind of Pope than any in my lifetime, I wanted to learn what he had to say on Easter.  In addition to satisfying that quest for knowledge, I also learned of an incredible error in Elisabetta Povoledo's New York Times article: "Pope Francis Calls for 'Peace in All the World' in Easter Message."  A correction to the article's final paragraph was posted the day after the Read More …

The 32%

As you celebrate Resurrection, consider that you are a part of the 32%.  According to a 2011 study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, the percentage of the world's population that is Christian has not changed much in the last 100 years: 1910: 32%, and 2012: 35%. While the percentage remains stable, the number of Christians has increased dramatically during that period of time: 1910: 600 million, and 2010: 2.18 billion. So What? While the Read More …

The Women Preached it First

The United Church of Christ‘s Still Speaking Campaign is the most well-known marketing campaign undertaken by a mainline denomination in recent years.  The campaign started in 2004 with television ads, which can be viewed here.   In April 2010, the campaign moved online with an ad designed to spread via social media called The Language of God (read my thoughts) and continued with Uniquely UCC (read my thoughts).  For Easter, the new ad, The Women Preached It First, is an Easter greeting set to Read More …

Truly Welcoming Visitors on Easter

In almost every congregation, Easter is the most attended Sunday morning of the year.  Many congregations feature additional services to provide these religious consumers with the greatest number of options possible and to ensure that there is room (especially parking and seating) for everyone.  Most parishes seek to do what they can to ensure visitors have a positive experience and are likely to visit again.  Toward that end, I suggest: Providing an extravagant welcome is not something that Read More …