Congregational Life

Mad Methodists

A few years ago I stood up in a meeting at the General Board of Discipleship and asked, “Has anyone else noticed how many deeply angry people we have in The United Methodist Church?”  At first, a few puzzled folks asked what I meant, but I didn’t even have to […]

ReDo, UnDo, DoDo

United Methodist congregations seem to regularly get “stuck” in one (or more) of three places.  Annual Conferences, too, share this affliction.  Instead of channeling energy positively, it dissipates in non-productive — and sometimes damaging ways.  Conversations tend to focus on problems to solve rather than possibilties.  People get bogged down […]

Thinking Our Way Out of Church

All I did was ask questions.  People would make broad statements and I would ask, “How do you know?”  People would claim supernatural and paranormal explanations and I would ask, “Is there another explanation?’  Attributes would be given to God that didn’t come from the Bible and I would ask, […]

Recalculating

I have a special relationship with my GPS.  It’s a Garmin and her name is Greta.  Like most couples, we have moments when we don’t see eye to eye.  Greta wants me to go one way, and I choose to go another.  Every time I disregard Greta’s sage advice, she […]

Sins of Nomission

A large number of United Methodist congregations are struggling — with money, with members, with commitment, with leadership, with a host of problems large and small.  Many of these churches aren’t doing anything wrong to cause these problems — in fact, they aren’t doing anything much at all.  And that’s […]

Pastor Paté

Over a decade ago, Evelyn Burry and I did a study of the issues that District Superintendents most hated dealing with.  In the broadest category, DSs hate having to deal with people — but that’s not fair, because the thing they like most about their jobs is people as well.  […]

Christianaughty

“Naughty” is a great word.  Today it often means risqué, improper, bad or inappropriate, but in its origin it was an all-purpose word that could mean bad, evil, worthless, of no value, unhealthy, unpleasant, disagreeable, adversarial, contrary, difficult, improper, or hypocritical.  At its heart and essence was the sense of […]

Paradoxology

Is our faith a blessing or a burden?  Are the practices of prayer, worship, fasting, giving, serving and studying gifts or obligations?  The way a person answers these questions is very telling as to the role and value of faith in her or his life.  It is continuously fascinating to […]

Mis-Advent-ure

Advent season — the four weeks preceding Christmas — is the launch of the Christian year.  It is a significant time of preparation and anticipation.  It frames the coming of the Messiah and reminds us how desperately God’s chosen people sought a savior.  Everyone knows that, right?  Well, not the […]

Everybody’s Right

“Why don’t you get more angry with people?” one of my new colleague’s asked me recently?  “You get hammered by people on your blog and you never seem to tell them off.”  There are a number of things wrong with this observation.  First, I do get irritated, but it seldom […]