Christian witness

A Case of Misshapen Identity

How we see ourselves is often very different from how others see us.  In my “former life” doing research for The United Methodist Church, I often went to “secular” audiences to get their impressions and opinions about our church.  It was very easy to do, because my office was half […]

Guerrilla Christianity

“Why were we forced to speak nicely to one another?  Why couldn’t we just be honest?” an agitated woman accosted me.  “You have no right to censor us.  You make rules that we can’t accuse or blame or address people directly.  That’s not fair.”  This woman was furious that I […]

Principle-Free Living

Reading a recent post by sportswriter Rick Reilly (passed on to me by my son Josh) about a young female wrestler, Cassy Herkelman, from Iowa who lost focus and was defeated in the state finals because a young evangelical Christian, Joel Northrup,  forfeited an earlier match to her due to his conviction […]

Are You Serious?

I was talking with a small group of young adults about the potential of the church to transform the world.  My argument was simple:  if we would strive to find a meaningful way to engage 7 million plus United Methodists in the United States in some form of life-affirming missional […]

Hearing and Listening

I remember strolling down a church hallway toward the Sunday school rooms, when I heard a sweet, little piping voice singing.  At first I couldn’t make out the words.  All I knew was it was the voice of a 4 or 5 year-old girl, and the tune was “We Are the […]

The Driver’s Seat

In college, I had three friends that I hung out with on a regular basis.  Whenever we went anywhere, there was a brief battle over who would drive and who would ride shotgun.  I am a very basic, boring driver — taking the easiest route, staying within 7 miles per […]

Perfect Church 2011

Recently, there was an interesting discussion being held by some clergy leaders in the Wisconsin Annual Conference about the “ideal congregation.”  This brings to mind old conversations we used to have in New Jersey about “the perfect church.”  In both cases, most of the answers revolve around faithful commitment on the […]

The Emma Dilemma

Who deserves grace?  In this season of giving and goodwill, who should be helped and who warrants disdain?  I listened to a table-full of pastors lament this time of year when some unfortunate few attempt to exploit the system of charity for their own benefit. I won’t let anyone have […]

DMC – Divided Methodist Church

I have been dismayed by the recent “unanimous support” claims for our Call to Action report — since I have had personal conversations with people directly involved who are anything but fully on board.  Oh, I understand the act of solidarity and presenting a unified public face and the potential promotional […]

The Day After Yesterday

I will say it again: our future does not lie in our past.  Trying to “become” what we once were is like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube (a lot more trouble than it is worth).  Why can’t we be the church we were in the 50s […]