Congregational Life

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 […]

Sleeping Dragon

I have worked with churches in a wide variety of settings and a wide range of relative states of health.  From these experiences, a conceptual frame emerges that I have found helpful as a consultation tool, and as a way of understanding not only what is happening in a given […]

So Much for the Meek

This morning’s USA Today has a front-page story below the fold on bullying among teens.  It appears that bullying is widespread, and apparently acceptable.  52% of students have hit someone in anger in the past year.  50% admit that they have bullied, and 47% report being the victim of bullying.  […]

Make-No-Wave United Methodist Church

I received an interesting email from a pastor today who “followed my advice” and raised questions about expectations and accountability in the church.  He asked the “what is the church?” and “what is the church for?” questions, and zeroed in on what our membership vows really mean.  He was shocked […]

Teach

I may get blasted on this.  That’s okay.  I am sharing almost twenty years of similar responses here, and I think we — especially clergy — need to listen.  Laity across the United Methodist Church are sending four messages loud and clear:  prayer, stewardship, evangelism and Bible are NOT being […]

Holy Disorientation

The root of the word “orientation” comes from the idea of using the rising sun — the east — as a reference point to stay on course.  We” orient,” then as the day passes into night, we become “dis-oriented,” until the sun reappears and we can “re-orient” ourselves.  A sublime […]

Back to Basics

News flash!  We’re making the gospel harder than it needs to be.  I mean, how difficult is “good news?”  What part of “God is love” is so confusing?  What’s with our penchant to load up “for God so loved the world that he gave his only son” with rules, regulations, […]

We Are The Church… Together?

Yesterday, I posted a piece on the nature and purpose of the church, thinking it to be a fairly safe (but important) topic.  I received this email today, and share it (eliminating names and any reference to the specific congregation, and framing it as dialog — with the author’s permission). […]

Why the Church We Have Is Not the Church We Need

Is the church relevant in the 21st century?  Depends on what your definition of “church” is.  Looking biblically/historically, there is still a desperate need for the ecclesia — the gathered body of Christ serving the world.  Looking culturally, specifically in the United States, what we know as church bears little […]