Mission of the Church

Extreme Thanksgiving

I often marvel at the apparent idiocy of extreme sports.  Normal, somewhat sensible sports like skiing or skateboarding or diving are transformed into death-defying high risk endeavors by people who seek thrills and the challenge to do the impossible.  Athletes and lunatics attempt to make difficult sports even harder, and […]

With Fulfillment

Kudos to Circuit Rider for the Nov./Dec./Jan. issue focusing on ministry with the poor.  So many other voices share my conviction that ministry “with” is our future, rather than ministry “to” or “for” the poor (so I must be right).  Of the Four Areas of Focus of The United Methodist […]

Do Something

Is part of our problem that we make things too hard?  Maybe the key to congregational health, strength, and vitality is well within our grasp, but we keep looking for some grand answer because the truth seems much to simple and easy.  Over the weekend I went through some files […]

Mission: Impossible

Two recent conversations stick with me and stand in stark contrast to my understanding of the church.  Now, my understanding may be completely wrong, so take what I say with a grain of salt.  My personal belief is that the church exists to serve in the world — that we […]

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 […]

How Badly Do We Really Want It?

Following a recent conversation about “growing the church,” I realized that the church we want to grow bears a striking resemblance to the church we already have… and to the church model made popular by the conservative evangelical movement of the late 20th century.  A dozen different entrepreneurial pastors described […]

Bipolar Church

bipolar — characterized by opposite extremes, as two conflicting political philosophies When I began doing congregational consulting in the late 1980s, I made a distinction between two core strategies of healthy churches: growth or mission.  A growth strategy pursues more — more people, more programs, more money, more building, more […]

Behavior Modification or Transformation?

Some comments at the School of Congregational Development highlight an incredibly important distinction.  “We’ve heard all this before.  The problem is putting it into practice.”  “You don’t have to talk me into thinking this is important, tell me ways to make it happen.”  “Doing this stuff is a lot harder […]

Sects in the City

I was speaking to a pastor from Chicago who lamented the appearance of street preachers who claimed the corner outside his church to read scripture aloud, preach, and pray with passersby.  I asked if the men (they were all male) were disruptive or aggressive?  No.  I asked if they accosted […]