Core Values

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

One of the sidelights of the research I did into congregational vitality from 1999-2008 was the opportunity to identify and interview young pastors who were doing truly meaningful, serious, and innovative work in the church.  Many of them were not lead pastors, but those who could specialize in youth, young […]

Time Warped

I read an article this last week that says our Council of Bishops approved a plan to make The United Methodist Church ten-year’s younger in a decade.  I thought, “That can’t be right.”  Just doing the math, we would need 70% of our existing over-50 membership to die or go […]

Dirty Stat Lover

An email I received today asked a question I am frequently asked, “How could someone who distrusts and dislikes statistics as much as you do have been a researcher for over a decade?”  The short answer to this is that it’s not that I don’t like statistics — I LOVE them, […]

Running Church

Stephen King wrote a novella entitled, The Running Man, about a brutal futuristic society where game shows and public executions were combined to produce the ultimate reality show.  Prisoners were given the opportunity to try to escape death — on national TV — by facing unexpected and unimaginable challenges.  The […]

Compatibullying

The United Methodist Judicial Council has adjudicated the “homosexuality question” for the denomination by deeming the Baltimore-Washington attempt to reframe and redeem the gay-lesbian-bi-transgender issue “out-of-order.”  The claim is that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.  Okay, fine, I accept that — but only if we’re consistent.  The ordination of […]

Puritanical Victorianimosity

It always amazes me when fairly modern interpretations of scripture are represented as “traditional” or “ancient.”  Most moralizing uses of scripture are as recent as the Victorian era (1837~1901), and many date back to the Puritan era (1550s~1660s) but almost none have anything to do with their original meaning.  Most of our Hebrew […]

Ecumental Disorders

Some of the most fulfilling ministry I’ve been a part of in my thirty+ years has been either ecumenical or inter-faith.  Beginning in my own “dark ages” as program director for the religious council at Ball State University, those projects and missional programs drawing from a broad diversity of faith […]

Punishing Success

A series of recent events have conspired to make me get back in touch with some of the churches I interviewed and studied during my Vital Signs research.  Out of fifteen vital congregations, the good news is that eleven of them are still going as strong as ever.  The bad […]

Giving Giving a Good Name

Believe it or not, there are churches that have virtually no financial concerns — and they are not all big, growing, or led by Pastor Popular.  Instead, they are healthy.  And how did they get healthy?  Intentionally, slowly and deliberately.  And one of the key areas they focused on was […]