Irresponsibly Unresponsive

What responsibility does the individual have for her or his own spiritual growth and development?  At least 70% of people leaving The United Methodist Church give “spiritual needs not met” as one of the reasons for their departure.  (Based on 429 “exit” interviews, 2002-2003)  But what do they mean when […]

Church Without Churches

A thought exercise: what would happen to The United Methodist Church in these United States if when we woke up tomorrow morning, all our buildings and property were gone?  How many of our congregations would carry on with hardly a disruption?  How many “members” would we lose to churches with […]

Worshipedia

We live in a Wiki world.  A collaborative, evolving, and highly interactive way of creating and recreating reality.  Facts and opinions merge to create a new kind of “flexible” truth.  Wikipedia has transformed the way we think about information and the authority of the written word.  Knowledge is built over […]

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 […]

The Measures of Our Success

In recent months I have visited a number of churches where leaders have apologetically said to me, “Our numbers are down.  We always lose them through the summer.”  Worship attendance is currently the primary metric for a church’s effectiveness — which is ironic because worship attendance has nothing to do […]

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 […]