Christian discipleship

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Trying Not to Be a Good Man

Word reached me of the death of a member of one of my former churches.  The homily preached at his memorial was entitled, “A Good Man,” and it extolled a life of generosity, virtue, community involvement, and leadership.  The news made me both sad and angry.  While everything shared in […]

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 […]

United! In What Ways?

There is a great deal of discussion these days about what makes United Methodists “Methodist.”  What I find more challenging is what makes us “United” Methodists.  The fractures to our connection are deeply painful to me.  There is no real freedom to disagree in love.  People talk about one another […]

Witnesses to the Mystery

My wife, Barbara, is a mystery to me.  She loves me in spite of all my shortcomings, demands, infirmities, and idiosyncrasies.  She is so smart, dynamic, funny and balanced.  I really don’t deserve her… and she certainly doesn’t deserve all the garbage she gets from me!  And yet she loves […]

Cranky Christians

From a letter I received in 1998 from a church member in a congregation where I was providing consultation and mediation: Our pastor doesn’t understand us.  We are a good people, and we don’t want to change.  We’ve gotten along fine for years and everyone was happy until he came […]

The Care and Feeding of Faithful Stewards

Stewardship is both a worldview and a practice.  Stewardship is a way of relating to God’s creation, not simply something we do in and for the church.  Stewardship is about how we choose to live our Christian faith in the world. The concept of Christian stewardship was so corrupted and […]