Congregational Life

Behavior Modification or Transformation?

Some comments at the School of Congregational Development highlight an incredibly important distinction.  “We’ve heard all this before.  The problem is putting it into practice.”  “You don’t have to talk me into thinking this is important, tell me ways to make it happen.”  “Doing this stuff is a lot harder […]

Perspectival Prestidigitation

What I said: “No matter how well we are doing, we can always do better.  There is virtually nothing we do that cannot be improved.” What people heard: “No matter what we do, it’s never good enough.” “Our best efforts are doomed to fail.”  “We’re obviously doing it wrong.” “We’re […]

Cagey Christians

A couple weeks ago I posted a blog called Cranky Christians, so this, I guess could be considered a companion piece.  Whereas cranky Christians are those who gripe and moan about every little thing, throwing tantrums to get their own way, and acting out in a wide variety of unpleasant […]

United! In What Ways?

There is a great deal of discussion these days about what makes United Methodists “Methodist.”  What I find more challenging is what makes us “United” Methodists.  The fractures to our connection are deeply painful to me.  There is no real freedom to disagree in love.  People talk about one another […]

Mean Christians Suck, Too

Some people shouldn’t be allowed to own and display bumper stickers.  Going home from the office, a little Honda swerved around me, causing me to slam on my breaks and almost hit another car in a turn lane.  The driver popped his arm out the window and gave me a […]

Worshipping in God’s Absence

Six year’s ago I worked with five Vanderbilt seminary students on a worship project.  They attended dozens of Christian worship experiences in all sizes, shapes, forms, and cultures of United Methodist congregations, then we sat and “debriefed” each experience.  One 27-year-old woman, Erin, an Episcopalian, made an unusual and provocative […]

Pancake Parallels

Fifty-five years ago the United States was deep into The Cold War.  Paranoia, patriotism, and poor communication combined to allow such bizarre and embarrassing phenomena as McCarthyism and backyard bomb shelters.  Our government, in an effort to protect and defend the American public, launched into a research frenzy — looking […]

Children of God: Childlike or Childish?

Overheard, two pastors talking: Well, if this amendment passes, I can tell you one thing.  My church isn’t going to pay its apportionments this year! What?  You mean if you disagree with the decision you’d withhold apportionments?  That’s kind of childish, isn’t it? Hey, I’m not childish.  I’m childlike. Um, no, […]

The Care and Feeding of Faithful Stewards

Stewardship is both a worldview and a practice.  Stewardship is a way of relating to God’s creation, not simply something we do in and for the church.  Stewardship is about how we choose to live our Christian faith in the world. The concept of Christian stewardship was so corrupted and […]