Toward Church Renewal

Cameron Trimble, CEO of the Center for Progressive Renewal, recently offered five suggestions to aid in the work of congregational renewal: Stop settling for mediocre worship. Turn members into ministers, not managers. Create environments of innovation. Seminaries are great, but we need more learning partners. Start embracing technology. I agree with Trimble that each of these is an important step toward renewal.  Furthermore, I believe the time for conversation that doesn't lead Read More …

Sermon: For the Love of God

Sermon Text: John 4:19-24 Sermon Excerpt The Bishop who inspired our sermon series that concludes today claims that “without passion, worship becomes dry, routine, boring, and predictable, keeping the form while lacking the spirit.” Several of the good folks within our community of faith have already shared some of their concerns with me about the idea that passionate worship is normative in healthy, growing congregations. One of you told me, “I don’t get why in some churches people Read More …

Top Posts of 2014

According to the number of page visits during this calendar year, the most popular posts I wrote in 2014 are Sensory Maundy Thursday Which Disciple Are You? Pastoral Prayer: Love How Worship is Evolving Sermon: More Than Showing Up So What? As the year winds down I always enjoy reading a variety of top ten lists and other lists sharing top moments, experiences, and posts of the year. Share a link to the most interesting Top 10 or top list of 2014 you have read so Read More …

Worship: Mainline Church Planting Trends

The Ecumenical Partners in Outreach collaborated with the Center for Progressive Renewal to conduct the largest study (so far this century) of church planting activities in the major mainline churches of the US and Canada.  A 12 page summary of findings, available online free of charge, highlights eight key insights. Insight #7 Worship Matters (p.11) Time spent on worship relates strongly to growth, at least among traditional and new immigrant churches. Among alternative churches trying Read More …

Stop Redecorating & Start Making Real Changes

Tom Ehrich, a writer and Episcopal priest, recently slammed the work of an Episcopal task force. For him, the task force's focus on what can be done at the level of the denomination "seems a bit like redecorating and recalibrating the home office of a company in which the home office plays a minor role." The time for that type of change ended decades ago.  The mainline denominations (a group that includes Episcopalians) are a shell of what they once were, and are now "down more than 42 Read More …

Segregation – Friendship Style

Since Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 comment, "it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is 11 o'clock on Sunday morning," we have made relatively little progress.  According to the latest statistics,  "between 5% to 7.5% of churches in the U.S. are considered to be racially diverse, a designation meaning that at least 20% of a church's members don't belong to the predominant racial group there." These statistics make sense when you consider white American's social Read More …

How Long is Long Enough?

While one may rightly argue that worship should last a lifetime, corporate worship gatherings/services/experiences typically have specified start times along with relatively fixed end times.  In my experience the most common length has been 60 minutes. I have, however, been a part of a congregation that tended toward 65-75 minutes. Recently, I read an article about Trinity Memorial Lutheran Church's decision to begin offering a new 30-minute-or-less worship service. This new addition to their Read More …

Reasons Not To Sing

Thom Schultz, co-author of Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore and the director of the film When God Left the Building, recently shared his list of four reasons why fewer and fewer people are singing during worship services: worship is crafted as a spectator event, quality is emphasized, professional music is incredibly loud, and musical selections are unfamiliar, hard to sing, or just cheesy. So What? Schultz concludes his article with a confession: he has stopped singing Read More …

Google Glass Goes to Church

Chris Yaw is an Episcopal priest and the founder of ChurchNext, which creates online Christian learning experiences to invigorate lives and congregations.  Recently he wore Google Glass during mass in the congregation he serves: St. David's Episcopal Church (Southfield, MI).  For the benefit of those of us who have never had such an experience he shared parts of his experience via a blog post and also shared video. So What? When Google Glass becomes available to the masses at a greatly Read More …

Changes in Worship Services

Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, recently shared a list of rapid changes in church worship services.  His list includes the disappearance of choirs (down 10% in just 10 years), the emergence of screens as normative in worship, a shift toward more casual dress for worship, and longer sermons. So What? Worship services have changed dramatically in recent years.  Rainer's use of the word rapid to describe several shifts is significant. As religious affiliation Read More …