The End of Children’s Sermons?

Mary Jacob's recent article considers the role of children's messages/sermons in worship.  Most importantly, she provides perspective that allows readers to more fully consider if the practice is appropriate in their congregation. It hasn't always been this way.  Children's messages/sermons began appearing in worship services in the late nineteenth century, but didn't become common until the 1970s and 1980s. Children's messages/sermons often lack focus or are directed at a different Read More …

Teaching = Learning?

Roger Olson is an evangelical scholar who serves as Professor of Theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University.  Recently he blogged about several unhelpful continuing education experiences in his thirty-one years teaching in higher education.  One workshop, focused on communication and teaching, unsettled Olson: . . . the over riding message left me dazed and confused: “If they have not learned, you have not taught.” Huh? No amount of questioning could get the experts Read More …

Church Size & First Time Guests

Faith Perceptions recently released the latest edition of their church index, which provides insight into the experiences of first time guests.  More specifically, the findings are based on 1,152 separate and unique church services attended by the company's mystery guests (think mystery shoppers for church attendance) between early 2008 and June 1, 2012.  The overall results for each church size are shown below (p.6). So What? Large churches (those with average weekly worship attendance Read More …

New Church Metrics

Cameron Trimble is the Executive Director of the Center for Progressive Renewal, which seeks to “renew Progressive Christianity by training new entrepreneurial leaders, supporting the birth of new liberal/progressive congregations, and by renewing and strengthening existing progressive churches.” In her article on church metrics in the Spring 2012 edition of New Times she proposes a new scorecard  for churches that is designed to more accurately reflect the relative health of Read More …

Mid-Year Evaluation

While there is a lingering culture fascination with New Year's resolutions, the emphasis is clearly making rather than keeping them.  As one who has resolved more often than not to refrain from making such resolutions I surprised myself by making one in 2012.  I have managed to keep it, but have found it to be more challenging than anticipated on a few occasions. So What? We have reached the mid-point of 2012: six months experienced and six months remain.  This mid-point is the ideal time Read More …

Stop Doing That!

Many ministries that are highly effective and growing during a given season of a congregation's life eventually wane significantly.  LeeAnne Watkins, rector of St. Mary's Episcopal Church (St. Paul, MN), considers how best to respond to these difficult situations in her article in the June 13, 2012 edition of the Christian Century (p.10-11). In her parish, the once popular adult education offerings and midweek services stopped drawing significant crowds.  Along with a leadership team, she Read More …

Measurement Matters

Mike Bonem, a former executive pastor who now serves as an organizational consultant, wrote an article entitled "Measuring What Matters" in the Spring 2012 edition of Leadership Journal.  He names several barriers to generating helpful metrics including two that are especially problematic in a church setting: Not clearly defining what should be measured A perspective that measurement is an unspiritual discipline (p.72) So What? In my experiences very few congregations effectively Read More …

What’s My Grade?

As the semester draws to a close, students are increasingly interested in grades.  I have received several inquiries about grades, and expect to hear many more this week. So What? Most of those reading this blog are not currently pursuing a degree or enrolled in any type of educational pursuit for which they will earn a grade.  We are, however, all heading toward the end of another year. Take a few minutes and grade yourself on 2011: How faithfully have you sought to pursue Read More …

Half Way Through 2011

I spent a great deal of time in my youth on soccer fields.  While no two games were the same, we always paused at the midpoint for half-time.  During the half-time break the coach helped us evaluate our performance during the first half and offered recommendations for what we needed to do in the second half.  Unfortunately there is no national half-time holiday each year to remind us to stop and assess our performance and consider what changes we need to make in the second half of the year to Read More …

Effective Worship Services?

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.  In the Spring 2011 edition of Leadership Journal, he wrote an article entitled "What Does God Think of Entertainment," in which he set forth his view on what a successful worship service looks like: The primary criteria for the effectiveness of a church service is not "holding people's attention."  It's not compliments after the service or growth Read More …