So Many Dwindling Congregations

The cover story of the January 2013 edition of The Lutheran is "Shrinking Church," an article focusing on the pragmatic issues of decline within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  To substantiate the problem, Nicole Radziszewski notes the following statistics about the ELCA: In 2010, almost 30% of congregations had an average worship attendance of fewer than 50 people. From 2003 to 2011, average weekly worship attendance dropped 26%. From 2009 to 2010, Read More …

1,000 Posts

In June 2009, some 44 months ago, I launched this blog.  My initial goals were quite modest: Learn more about blogging and social media by deepening my own engagement Share my thoughts on timely topics with an emphasis on raising questions rather than offering answers Encourage conversation about matters of faith that matter (within and beyond the congregation I was serving) After a few months of posting on an occasional basis, I began to be more intentional about when I posted. Read More …

Church Renewal – Join the Conversation

A week ago today Chaplain Mike, one of the principal bloggers on the popular Evangelical/post-Evangelical Internet Monk site, shared his summary of my thoughts on the future of the church as expressed in a series of blog posts written last year.  In addition to framing my series as a "perspective on the future of the American church from a younger leader in the mainline Protestant world," Chaplain Mike shared his take on how my thoughts relate to what others are saying now and having been saying Read More …

Shifts in Young Adult Protestantism

The graph at right illustrates the shifts in young adult (ages 23-35) Protestant affiliation between 1972 and 2010 as compiled by Lifeway Research using data from the General Social Survey.  Overall, during the "last 30 years, mainline protestantism is dying, black protestantism is steady, and evangelicalism is growing."  More specifically, among young adults: Mainline Protestantism declined dramatically: identification dropped from 24% to 6% while worship attendance was cut in half moving 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 …

Spong on Seminaries

John Shelby Spong served as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2001.  In retirement, he has been a prolific writer and speaker.   After teaching a weeklong intensive course at the Pacific School of Theology, he reflected on how that school has changed to more effectively meet the demands of preparing people for ministry in the early twenty-first century.  He is hopeful that this institution's current intentions will serve its students well and may Read More …

Religion in Your County

I was pleasantly surprised to learn the Association of Religion Data Archives offers free and easily searchable county-level information on religion (a big thanks to Jerry Park for mentioning it a few days ago).  A few seconds after clicking through to the site I was viewing data on my current county of residence.  The bar graph appears below, but the actual data produced by the county search includes the 2010 report broken down by religious bodies and the ability to see previous reports (2000, Read More …

Episcopalian Praise for the UCC

John Shelby Spong served as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2001.  In retirement, he has been a prolific writer and speaker.   His latest essay, "A Salute to the United Church of Christ," portrays the United Church of Christ (UCC) as a denomination with the potential to "inspire, bring about and participate in the necessary reformation required to break the Christian faith out of its dying patterns."  While Spong has had numerous interactions with 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 …

Are You An In Between Christian?

In a recent blog post, Rachel Held Evans included a bit of self-disclosure that warrants consideration by all who seek to lead the church into the future.  After mentioning the recent article by Ross Douthat and response by Diana Butler Bass (something I have written about recently as well), she shares the disheartening reality that many with differing theological perspectives choose to attack the other's position rather than collaborate to craft a brighter future for the church. Notably, she Read More …