Being American, Being Christian?

  Does Believing in God Make You a Better American? This question is the title of a recent article by Kelsey Dallas that addresses how many Americans feel about what the role of Christianity should be in shaping the American experience. While most readers can and will quickly answer the question, it is important to also be aware of how other Americans have answered it in recent years. 4 out of 10 think a culture grounded in Christianity is an extremely or very important piece Read More …

Identity: Who Are We? Who Am I?

I am a planner.  The tendency to plan my work and work my plan is a part of my identity.  As a pastor, I planned worship themes well in advance.  Since I left my last call before the end of the liturgical year, I never fully developed what would have become the last two sermon series before Advent. Identity Identity was a big part of my work as an interim or transitional pastor.  In my last call, prior to the start of what would have become back-to-back series on identity that community of Read More …

Progressive Identity

Many people think of the United Church of Christ as a progressive Protestant denomination.  Since it is a congregational tradition, it is important to note that this tradition features congregations and members with views all across the theological continuum.  Individual congregations that claim progressive as a core part of their identity should be intentional in communicating that message. Recently I encountered an exemplary example of how to tell the progressive story well on the website Read More …

Who Are You?

Last week I modified the words of what I found to be an intriguing Facebook status, and used the new version as a status update. My version read "Share your insight: use 1 word to describe me. (Don't repeat any words already used.)" According to the results, I am keen, organized, smart, pensive, brilliant, intelligent, focused, diplomatic, efficient, gregarious, contemplative, energetic, thoughtful, innovator, friend, spirited, believer, son, and minister.  Additionally - and certainly worthy Read More …

For not Against

Rachel Marie Stone is a writer who writes for places like Christianity Today, Sojourners, and The Christian Century.  Recently she wrote a blog post calling her readers to focus on that which they are for rather than defining themselves by that which they are against. So What? When it comes to Christianity, so many tend to define themselves or "their type of Christianity" based on what they are against.  Unfortunately, I have met far too many people who were passionate about that which Read More …

Review of Altar Ego

Meet the Author Craig Groeschel is the founding pastor of LifeChurch.tv, which has grown from a single campus in 1996 to a multi-campus church with weekly worship experiences in fourteen locations, including an online campus.  Groeschel has written six books, including The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living as if He Doesn’t Exist (2010, read my review here) and It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It (2011). Book Basics Altar Ego: Becoming Who God Says You Are is Read More …

It’s Your Time

It is easy to become so comfortable in the present that one stops envisioning and striving toward a future that differs dramatically.  As one ages, especially if things are going well, motivation to fully pursue one's life dream often fades.  Not only does the life dream itself no longer seem as compelling, it may even be written off as unrealistic or unnecessary. So What? Whether you are 19, 91, or some age between, it's your time.  Now is the best time to re-evaluate what your dream is, Read More …

Refocusing

Staying focused is an ongoing challenge.  There is so much one can do that it is easy to lose sight of what one is called to do.  The urgent can override the important and the exciting can trump the routine. So What? Living a focused life requires intentional periods of refocusing. How do you refocus?  When? What role does Sabbath play? Do you know yourself and your identity well enough to know when you are living an out of focus life?  Do you have others in your life that you trust Read More …

God is Still Speaking – the First Decade

Ron Buford is the lead architect of the United Church of Christ's (UCC) Still Speaking campaign which began in 2002.  He recently accepted a call to serve as Interim Minister for Discipleship at Old South Church in Boston, and authored an article about Still Speaking in the denomination's magazine (Vol. 2, Issue 2 - p.54-56).  In that piece he explores his experiences over the last decade, including his travel to congregations in all but two of the UCC Conferences.  While many forecast continued Read More …