When “It Still Works” Isn’t Good Enough

For the better part of a year, my wife and I have been renovating the house we call our home.  While we have updated many houses over the years, this time our efforts are more comprehensive.  We are committed to refashioning it to our tastes and to remaking it for 2016.  As the first phase was nearing completion, it became clear a second phase was needed to handle items that still worked fine but were no longer good enough. When 1989 was placed side-by-side with 2016, it was hard to ignore Read More …

The Shrinking Dreams: America & Church

In her recent article in The Atlantic, Marianne Cooper considered data from a number of recent surveys before concluding that "people are downsizing their definition of the American dream." More specifically, she notes that "the desire to own a home or to move up economically is often replaced by a desire to be debt free and to have financial stability." What Next? Cooper rightly suggests that this general shift in perspective is likely to have many long term negative consequences as Read More …

American Church: Dying or Thriving Or ?

A few hours after I finished reading Greg Garrett's new book, My Church is NOT Dying: Episcopalians in the 21st Century, I encountered a recent LifeWay Research survey that included a question about how the American church is faring.  More specifically, participants were asked, "Which of the following trends do you believe describes church attendance today . . . declining, stable, dying, thriving, growing, or none of these?" Declining - 55% Stable - 51% Dying - 42% Thriving - Read More …

Sermon: An Opportune Time

Sermon Text: Ecclesiastes 3:1-6 Sermon Excerpt: A month before I graduated from seminary I started my first pastoral position.  I was one of the associate pastors in the oldest continually meeting Protestant congregation in Dallas, Texas.  My official job title was so long even I had a hard time remembering it.  It included elements of congregational redevelopment with an emphasis on reaching new people – especially those who were younger. For some reason people assumed that since I was Read More …

Angry Men with Fearful Minds

Philip Gulley, popular Christian author and pastor of the Fairfield Friends Meeting (near Indianapolis, IN), used his most recent "Back Home Again" essay in  Indianapolis Monthly to consider the prevalence of griping in our country - especially griping done by white men.  The words he uses to conclude his essay captured my attention and led me to return to his article on multiple occasions as I pondered just what this might mean for me:  . . . for reasons I do not fully understand but fully Read More …

WHCB: Summary & Next Steps

I have devoted most of my posts over the last week to exploring an important topic: "What's Holding Christianity Back."  Using a list of five items proposed by Christian Piatt, I considered church buildings, denominations, worship, church boards, and fear. So What? These factors are quite real.  They must not be ignored.  Reading these posts, pondering your own church experiences, and considering how an awareness of these issues may prove helpful as you live in the present with Read More …

WHCB: Denominations

Christian Piatt includes denominations on his list of five things that are holding Christianity back.  He suggests that with so many denominations the "distinction from others like them are so minute that even the members within a given denomination can’t tell you what makes them unique."  Additionally, he argues that "with the trend toward personal and local autonomy taking hold in many Christian communities, there is increasingly less of a reason to keep such hierarchic corporate structures on Read More …

What’s Holding Christianity Back? (WHCB)

Christian Piatt is the author of multiple books, including Banned Questions About Jesus and Banned Questions About the Bible.  Recently, he shared a list of things he feels are holding Christianity back: church buildings, denominations, worship, church boards, and fear. So What? Piatt labels these items as "the five biggest things I’ve seen that tend to keep us from doing our best work as the living, breathing body of Christ in the world today."  While he and I may disagree a Read More …

Review of God is Alive And Well

Meet the Author Frank Newport is Editor in Chief at Gallup.  Before joining Gallup, Newport taught sociology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, was news director and talk show host at KTRH Radio in Houston, and was a partner at a market research and public opinion research firm in Houston.  He is the co-author of two books and the author of  Polling Matters: Why Leaders Must Listen to the Wisdom of the People (2004) and God is Alive and Well: The Future of Religion in America (2012). Read More …

Statement on Ministry

Tiger population has declined by 90% over the last 50 years; those involved in creating a brighter future for tigers understand that extinction will be reality if significant changes are not implemented soon.  The role of religion in America has changed dramatically and the size of mainline/progressive Protestantism has declined dramatically over the last 50 years; those involved in leading United Church of Christ communities today must be open to innovation and experimentation in order to Read More …