Our Search for a Church is Over!

In March 2015, my wife, Susan, relocated to Denton, Texas from Naples, Florida.  Six months later I finished an interim ministry position in Southwest Florida and joined her. 70 Weeks of Searching  From late September 2015 through early February 2017 (17 months!) we embarked on a one of a kind journey I termed our "search for a church."  Despite our often conflicting professional travel schedules, we managed to worship 61 times in 36 different Mainline Protestant congregations within a Read More …

The Disappearance of Young Pastors

Last week I saw a link to Kate Shellnutt's article, "Only 1 in 7 Pastors is Under 40" appear on my social feeds a few times before I clicked through to read it and to learn about the latest research on the topic. The research was conducted by the Barna Group and Pepperdine University. It included 14,000 pastors. Findings include: Average Age of Protestant Senior Pastors 2017: 54 1992: 44 Young Senior Pastors  2017: Only 1 in 7 is under age 40 Getting Personal This topic Read More …

Dwindling Membership: The United Church of Christ from 1965-2015

While I consider myself a post-denominational follower of the Way of Jesus, I have spent the most of the last six years involved in the life of congregations affiliated with the United Church of Christ.  This Mainline Protestant denomination has experienced a significant decline in membership over the last 50 years from over 2 million members in 1965 to under 1 million members in 2015. The graph at right shows the denomination's total membership by year in blue and the percent change or Read More …

Where’s Greg Worshipping?

Over the last twelve and a half months, I have attended 45 worship services in 34 different congregations. Denominations The chart at right illustrates the number of churches I have visited by denominational affiliation (green), the number of services I have attended in congregations affiliated with each denomination (blue), and the percent of all worship services I have attended by denomination (yellow). 75% of all of my worship experiences have occurred in congregations affiliated Read More …

Be the Church

Not being the church should not be an option. All who follow the Way of Jesus are called to be authentic in their following by being themselves, being proud, and being the church. It is always time to co-create with God; make real God's realm on earth; and advocate for justice for all of God's people. So What? Being the church is never an individual adventure; it is always a shared journey.  It requires a genuine concern for all humans and a commitment to embody love for God Read More …

My Summer Vacation Worship Report

While there are many creative ways that young people write reports about their summer vacations that creativity rarely extends into adulthood.  Rather than attempt such an ambitious project, I offer some insight into one hour of my summer vacation: worship at Naples United Church of Christ. Under Construction No church is ever complete. No community of faith has ever arrived.  Every congregation is always under construction. Given these theological assertions, I was pleasantly surprised Read More …

Mainline Members – Political Leanings

If you know much about American Christianity, you may expect Mainline Protestants to be more likely to have more liberal political leanings than the average American.  The Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study affords an unparalleled look at this topic by breaking down many of the larger religious denominations by what political party their members self-identify as leaning toward or with which they affiliate. Among all US adults the survey found that 37% are or lean Republican, Read More …

Closing the Clergy Gender Pay Gap

Equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land in the USA for my entire life.  That legal expectation, however, has not translated into actual dollar per dollar gender equality. In fact, the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicates women earn just $0.83 for every dollar men earn. American Clergy Since the Christian church holds equality of all persons as a core value, one should reasonably expect it would be a model of pay equality.  Unfortunately, the pay gap for clergy is Read More …

More Than Commas

The United Church of Christ has long been known as the church of the comma.  That campaign resonated with me to the degree that I have (and have often worn!) a comma pin. I have also said the line attributed to Gracie Allen on many occasions: "Never place a period where God has placed a comma."  In short, I appreciate the reminder that God is still speaking. New Punctuation Since God is still speaking the United Church of Christ's latest additions to the punctuation serve both to expand Read More …

My 2016 Search for a Church

How does someone with more than fifteen years of parish ministry experience search for a church when presented with the opportunity to connect with a community of faith as an active participant rather than serving as a pastor or staff member? In my case the answer is a work in progress. Last September I relocated to North Texas after living in Southwest Florida for eight years.  Immediately, my wife and I started our search for a church. Despite my travel for work, we have managed to Read More …