1,000 Open and Affirming Congregations

The United Church of Christ is known for being first: 1785 - first ordained African American pastor 1853 - first woman pastor 1972 - ordination of first openly gay minister Today, the denomination celebrates another first as it welcomes its 1,000th Open and Affirming congregation.  Open and affirming congregations have publicly and specifically declared that those of all “sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions” (or “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” Read More …

Just How Small Are Most Congregations?

Recently the Presbyterian Church (USA) released information about the distribution of its congregations by size.  The chart below provides the data in a manner that clearly displays the prevalence of small congregations. Put differently, 51.9% have 100 or fewer members 83.7% have 300 or fewer members 3.6% have 800 or more members So What? Since completing my education I have served exclusively in mainline congregations with well over 800 members, including a PC (USA) parish. Read More …

A Unique Top 10 News Stories of 2011

Christianity Today published its list of the "Top 10 News Stories of 2011," which includes the following explanation: "The events, people, and debates of the past year that have shaped or will significantly shape, evangelical life, thought and mission."  The list is available online (here as a quick loading web page or here as a pdf including the graphics printed on p.9 of the January 2012 edition of the magazine).  The list includes two pastors and one decision regarding qualifications for Read More …

Top 11 Posts of 2011

Based on the number of unique hits, the following are my top 11 posts in 2011 Best Church Logos Contemporvant Worship: Too Close To Reality? Review of Not a Fan Preferred Frequency for Communion / Lord's Supper / Eucharist Managing the Social Network Map The Influence of Technology The Presbyterian (PCUSA) Church is Deathly Ill Review of The Jesuit Guide To (Almost) Everything The UCC, General Synod, and the Trinity The Acceptable Year of the Lord - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Read More …

A Free Mainline Seminary Education

Recently Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary announced that they will become the first mainline seminary to charge no tuition for "students in its master’s degree programs in divinity, marriage and family therapy and religion beginning in 2015."  Rather than cutting costs or quality, the school intends to finance this initiative by increasing its endowment and decreasing the number of students admitted (moving from 150 to 130). So What? Many students begin their seminary studies Read More …

A New Day in the PCUSA

The Presbyterian Church (USA) or PCUSA has been in the news more this past week than any time this year.  The denomination officially amended its constitution earlier this year to allow gays and lesbians to serve as ministers and lay leaders. Last Saturday, the Rev. Scott Anderson was ordained as the denomination's first openly gay pastor.  He told CNN: "It's an exciting time for me personally to be the first openly gay person ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and it's a big moment Read More …

Where Do New Members Come From?

Deborah Bruce and Joelle Anderson recently co-authored an article exploring research about the makeup of new church members.  More specifically, they considered who is joining Presbyterian (PCUSA) congregations.  They report that "in the typical PC(USA) congregation about three in ten worshipers are new people who began attending there in the past five years."  These newcomers can be grouped into four categories: First-timers with no church background.  Only 8% of new people in Read More …

You Might Be a Progressive Christian If . . .

Bruce Reyes-Chow is a consultant who served as founding pastor of Mission Bay Community Church, until May of this year, and was the former moderator of the General Assembly of the 2.3 million member PCUSA.  He recently wrote a piece about what Progressive Christianity is for Patheos' new Progressive Christian portal.  In the article, he suggests: “You might be a progressive Christian if . . .” You can be described, but not defined . . . The Progressive Christian often confuses staunch Read More …

Sowhatfaith.com – The First 2 Years

Happy 2nd birthday to sowhatfaith.com!  Over the course of the last two years, a great deal has changed in my life and with this site. I have transitioned from full-time to part-time ministry in a local congregation transitioned from serving a Presbyterian (PCUSA) parish to serving one affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC) started working full-time for a university Sowhatfaith.com has transitioned from posting new content twice a week (101 posts in the first year) Read More …

The End of Gender-Segregated Ministries?

Adam J. Copeland recently transitioned from serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Hallock, MN to serving as mission developer of  the ELCA affiliated Project F-M, which is a new "faith community for young adults and the young at heart" in Fargo-Morehead area.  He recently blogged about the limitations of gender-segregated groups, suggesting: Gender-segregated groups seem very old school — glass ceilings are being broken left and right, though we still have a long way to go. While it Read More …