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 …

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 …

Mainline: Lacking Racial Diversity

Race related topics have been featured in the news more in recent months than any time I can recall.  Mainline Protestants generally tend to have healthy perspectives on race.  Such philosophical and even theological understandings do not necessarily translate into action (for example: read my summary and reflection of Bradley Wright's recent research showing that Mainline Protestant congregations had the highest rate of discrimination to prospective visitors) nor do they lead to racially Read More …

Retiring Clergy – End of an Era

The youngest Baby Boomers reached retirement age in 2011.   10,000 Boomers a day will hit that milestone every day through the year 2030.  While not all will retire upon turning 65, it is reasonable to expect a good number will retire at some point not long thereafter. Clergy Retirement Boom Charles M. Austin's cover story in the latest edition of "The Lutheran," illustrates the significance of Boomer retirements in the life of the Lutheran church.  More specifically, he cites statistics Read More …

The 1 Minute Worship Service

Gold Hill Lutheran Church is an ELCA congregation in Butte, MT that averages just over 130 people in worship each Sunday morning.  Their pastor's one minute worship service (January 12, 2014) has gone viral.  It took less than a week for the video to reach 1 million views.   So What? Timothy Christensen's announcement was initially misunderstood by many as having been the full worship experience.  In the days since, numerous corrections or updates to blog posts, tweets and Read More …

Review of Pastrix

Meet the Author Nadia Bolz-Weber is the founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints, a Lutheran (ELCA) mission church in Denver, CO.   Bolz-Weber is known for her non-traditional appearance and approach.  She is the author of two books: Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television (2008) and Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint (2013).   Prior to attending seminary and entering the ministry, Bolz-Weber worked as a stand-up comic. Book Read More …

A Word of Hope

Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, shared this powerful one minute (71 seconds) message of hope yesterday.   So What? As we near the conclusion of what has been an unusual and, for many, challenging week Hanson's reminders are timely and timeless: Wherever you are . . . the promise is Christ is with you. Christ comes and says to you, "peace be with you." There are no God forsaken places and there are no God forgotten Read More …

The Summer Slump

Joe Smith, pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church (Lakewood, WA), recently blogged about one common approach to dealing with drops in attendance and giving in local congregations during the summer months: sending a "summer slump letter" (a letter sent to members encouraging them to keep their giving regular during the summer months).  This unhelpful and unhealthy approach "corrodes community" and reaches the wrong audience, since those who are most active are most likely to read the letter and be 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 …

High School Ministry – Defining Success

Lutheran (ELCA) pastor Rich Melheim is the founder and chief creative officer of Faith Inkubators, which he describes as "a Christian education systems design think tank and resource provider dedicated to incubating faith every night in every home."  In the February 22, 2012 edition of the Christian Century, he answered several questions regarding faith formation as a family matter, including one about high school youth ministry. Q: How do you define a successful church program for high Read More …