Church Leadership

Prophet Margin

Are there prophets in the church today?  Are there any willing to speak the truth regardless of the consequences?  Anyone willing to point out the unconscionable amount of money and time we waste in meetings and conferences?  Anyone willing to point out that our own systems and structures are as unfair […]

Pastor Paté

Over a decade ago, Evelyn Burry and I did a study of the issues that District Superintendents most hated dealing with.  In the broadest category, DSs hate having to deal with people — but that’s not fair, because the thing they like most about their jobs is people as well.  […]

Ascribes & Pharetics

There are two deadly types of leaders in today’s congregations: ascribes — those who ascribe negative intentions to other people’s actions — and pharetics — legalistic types who go out of their way to misconstrue and manipulate information to make others look bad.  Two quick illustrations: A young pastor left […]

Christianaughty

“Naughty” is a great word.  Today it often means risqué, improper, bad or inappropriate, but in its origin it was an all-purpose word that could mean bad, evil, worthless, of no value, unhealthy, unpleasant, disagreeable, adversarial, contrary, difficult, improper, or hypocritical.  At its heart and essence was the sense of […]

In the Land of Beginning Again

In the 1946 film, The Bell’s of St. Mary’s, Bing Crosby sings Grant Clarke & George W. Meyer’s, In the Land of Beginning Again.  This sappy, wistful, wonderful song fits the film beautifully, wishing for the chance to start fresh, to let go of past regrets, and to move forward […]

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

One of the sidelights of the research I did into congregational vitality from 1999-2008 was the opportunity to identify and interview young pastors who were doing truly meaningful, serious, and innovative work in the church.  Many of them were not lead pastors, but those who could specialize in youth, young […]

Time Warped

I read an article this last week that says our Council of Bishops approved a plan to make The United Methodist Church ten-year’s younger in a decade.  I thought, “That can’t be right.”  Just doing the math, we would need 70% of our existing over-50 membership to die or go […]

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 […]

Punishing Success

A series of recent events have conspired to make me get back in touch with some of the churches I interviewed and studied during my Vital Signs research.  Out of fifteen vital congregations, the good news is that eleven of them are still going as strong as ever.  The bad […]