Congregational Life

The Costs of Low Expectations

While cleaning out some files the other day, I came across a folder of interviews I did in 2004 with 22 lifelong United Methodists who, in their 60s, 70s and 80s, made the decision to leave the denomination and join another church.  These people did not make the choice based […]

R.D.E.

I have been reading Paul Watzlawick’s fun and funky, The Situation is Hopeless, But Not Serious — The Pursuit of Unhappiness.  The central thesis of this short work is that human beings create their own unhappiness and discontent in dozens of creative unconscious ways.  In one section, Watzlawick focuses on a […]

Off Target

Two passing conversations yesterday stuck with me.  I got a call from a former colleague and current retired bishop who asked if I were planning to go to General Conference.  I responded that it would be up to the conference whether I get elected or not.  His reply to me […]

You Need to Understand

Working for the church, first at the denominational level, then at the conference level, I am surprised at how often people will open their communication with me with the words, “You need to understand…”  A more narcissistic and ego-centric phrase may not exist, because the people who open with such […]

Wethodism

It is time to take the “me” out of Methodism and replace it with “we”.  Somewhere we lost touch with the fact that this is God’s church and that each of us is fortunate and blessed to be allowed to be a part of it.  The church does not exist […]

Vegetables of the Spirit

Growing up, fruit was often the core component of dessert after our meals.  My grandmother tended a wonderful orchard, full of luscious delights — crisp, sweet apples; juicy pears, plump cherries, amazing berries, grapes swelled to bursting.  We supplemented Midwestern fare with citrus fruits and bananas.  Fruit was a sweet […]

The First Last Supper

I know I am in the minority, but in a culture crazed for Christmas and Easter, my two favorite church holy-days are Pentecost and Maundy Thursday.  I’ll get to Pentecost in about six weeks, but for now I want to think about what makes Maundy Thursday so significant for me. […]

Three Little Words

You know what The United Methodist Church needs?  A Day of Atonement.  A good old-fashioned nation-wide, denomination-deep day of saying “I Am Sorry!” — to God, to each other, and to ourselves.  For a vast number of reasons, we United Methodists have seemingly lost the capacity to apologize, to humble, […]

Dress for Success

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord – has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  (Colossians 3:12-13, NRSV) For a very short […]

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 […]