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 …

Moving Sunday School Online

For as long as I have been in ministry there has been discussion about how best to reform the Sunday School experience for children.  I spent many months doing research on this topic nearly a decade ago as a part of my doctoral work.  I continue to be intrigued by and appreciative of those who are on the front lines of innovating this important ministry of faith formation. Day Smith Pritchartt's recent blog post is one great example of how a congregation might choose to replace the Read More …

The Role of Youth Ministry

Doug Franklin, president of LeaderTreks and seasoned youth minister, recently blogged about a common problem in youth ministries in our consumer culture: expectations.  Franklin suggests that parents rather than youth ministers or those volunteering in youth ministries should serve as the primary faith influencers of their teenaged children. So what? What is the point of youth ministry? Put differently, why does your congregation engage in ministry in an age specific manner to students 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 Falling Upward

Meet the Author Fr. Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest.  He was the founder of the New Jerusalem Community in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1971, and the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1986, where he presently serves as Founding Director.  He speaks and teaches on themes that include Scripture as liberation, the integration of action and contemplation, community building, peace and justice issues, male spirituality, the enneagram, and eco-spirituality.  Fr. Rohr's Read More …

Returning to Parish Ministry

After my first time away from parish ministry since the early days of seminary, I will be returning to that role effective May 1 when I  assume the role of Director of Adult Education at Naples United Church of Christ.  Some of my regular readers may be familiar with that name as I have written several times about my volunteer leadership experiences in this community of faith, especially in leading worship (i.e. sermon manuscript or other recent materials: 1, 2, 3, 4).  NUCC is a growing parish Read More …

Rethinking Spiritual Formation

Ben Witherington is the Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. Considered by many to be a leading New Testament scholar, Witherington has written over thirty books and six commentaries.  For more information, view his faculty profile page or read his blog. Recently he listed his concerns with contemporary views of spiritual formation: Monastic models of piety frankly don't work Read More …