Core Values

Verbundenheit

When I was in college, I was good friends with two German students (Angela and Hans) who introduced me to a concept that shapes my understanding of church to this day.  The German word is “verbundenheit” and while the simplest translation is “solidarity,” in has a much deeper, textured, and […]

The Folly of Form-Focus

I have been asked by a number of people to comment on the 2009-2012 Study of Ministry Commission Report & Recommendations.  This I am about to do, but I need to set up the criteria by which I am judging the current effort.  There are three fundamental lenses (if you […]

Thanks Giving

There is often a chasm between what we say is important and the actions we take which reveal what is truly important (like saying “we want to make disciples,” then counting “worship attenders.”) to us.  Something is always driving us, but identifying exactly what it is isn’t always easy.  You […]

Di*cip*eshi*

What in God’s name do we think we are doing?  If I hear one more prominent church leader define discipleship as going to church I will scream.  We aren’t going to count the number of people who attend church anymore.  Some genius decided we will count “disciples” in worship.  What?  […]

Christi-inanity

Four recent conversations point out a serious (and growing) problem in many of our congregations: we don’t know what to do with smart people who ask tough questions.  I have had (intentional) encounters with people in the state of Wisconsin who have visited United Methodist congregations and found them lacking.  […]

Take Time To Be Holy

Are we really all too busy to spend time with God?  I was in a situation recently where one group was bashing another group and I innocently asked if they had ever gotten together to pray.  You might have thought I suggested they mate with animals.  The idea that we […]

Choose Your C

I have been reading both Bruggemann and Block (The Word That Redescribes the World  and Community/Abundant Community) and have been challenged in my thinking to a great degree about how we live together in healthy Christian community.  Both books press a very simple, yet signficant distinction between two Cs: consumer […]

Garden Club Christianity

Every community has its own unique interests and passions, and when I served in northern New Jersey in the 1980s, that interest was gardening.  In Westwood and the three towns surrounding (Emerson, Hillsdale, and Park Ridge), garden clubs were the rage.  To be a pastor seeking to connect with the […]

More-a-torium

Often we believe that if we do more of what does not work, it will finally work.  This is the dilemma of the consumer economy.  It leads us to the place where, when we reach a limit and still are unsatisfied, we think, if we only had more, we would […]