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 …

Do Church Members View Your Website?

In the July/August 2011 edition of Presbyterians Today, Joelle Anderson and Ida Smith-Williams wrote an article about trends in how Presbyterian congregations communicate digitally.  They reported on research that shows a significant increase, between 2001 and 2008, in the percentage of congregations who use e-mail and websites to communicate with members. So What? While congregations have moved toward websites, perhaps congregants have moved beyond them.  More specifically, while 63% of Read More …

More Variety in Worship or Not?

Jim Moss is the pastor of Clarksville Presbyterian Church in Clarksville, VA.  He and I have interacted from time to time via Twitter, and I appreciate his willingness to discuss big issues.  Recently, he reflected on a conversation he had with several others via Twitter about the future of the church.  More specifically, he was surprised to find less openness from progressive clergy to the possibility of pursuing alternative styles of worship as one of many avenues toward the church of Read More …

Rethinking Religious Rules

This morning I am preaching at Naples United Church of Christ in Naples, FL.  You can read the full text of my sermon, Rethinking Religious Rules, here. For more information about the books referenced visit my review of One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow and my thoughts on The Jesus Creed, which was a part of my Who is Jesus? series. So What? In his recent book, One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow, Scot McKnight writes these words: “Every religious culture multiplies rules (except Jesus’ 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 …

The Introverted Ministry Leader

Adam S. McHugh, Presbyterian pastor and author of Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture (2009), wrote an article in the Summer 2011 edition of Leadership Journal about introverted leaders that included these words: . . . in more than a decade of Christian leadership I have come to see the significant contributions introverts make to others and have learned effective introverted models of leadership.  So we must distinguish between our energy level for a task and Read More …

Imagine an Institution

A short illustration, posted on April 20 by Jerry Bowyer on the forbes.com blog, was printed in the May 31, 2011 edition of the Christian Century: Imagine an institution that requires its leaders to attend not only college, but graduate school.  Imagine that the graduate school in question is constitutionally forbidden from receiving any form of government aid, that it typically requires three years of full-time schooling for the diploma, that the nature of the schooling bears almost no Read More …