Core Values

Fit To Be Tithed

An interesting thing happened in the church during the twentieth century in the United States.  Christian giving shifted from caring for the poor, saving lives and spreading the gospel to funding the church budget.  Centuries old spiritual teachings morphed into platitudes for raising money and getting people to put more in […]

The Joy of Giving

Year’s ago, I attended worship in a small New England church in the fall of the year during the annual “stewardship” campaign.  The pastor was a quiet, gentle man who obviously cared for his congregation, which is a good thing because he was a poor preacher.  He read his sermon […]

United Methodist Liburies

Loving books, God and the church impels me to look at local church libraries whenever I visit a new place.  Were we to view church libraries as a “witness” to a church’s learning and beliefs, we would generally be misled.  Church libraries are odd little repositories for an eclectic and […]

Instruments in Need of Tuning

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not […]

Growth Exaggeration

“You’re against church growth, aren’t you?” asked a new, young pastor. I looked at him for a moment, pausing to reflect on the fact that I am often my own worst enemy.  I can fully understand how someone who reads my writing — books and blogs — might get the […]

Lying for the Greater Good

Okay, I know I am sounding like a broken record, but no other subject has garnered the kind of response this one has.  The subject of truth-telling in leadership is volatile.  As I have said before, what is most amazing to me is how strongly some pastors and lay people […]

Near-Miss Evangelism

When did “evangelism” become “marketing?”  At what point did the church rise up and say, “You know?  Evangelism doesn’t have to be personal.  We can phone (email, billboard, television, webcast) it in!”  The shift from relational evangelism to representational evangelism is almost complete in some areas.  At the School of […]

To, For, or With

I listened to a sermon on restorative justice — one of my passions.  I am generally an easy audience for justice messages, but this particular one kept jarring me.  The preacher hammered on the need for us to be in ministry to both victims and victimizers, to the incarcerated, to […]