Mission & Purpose

Holy Warps

Okay, I understand disagreements over theology.  I understand disagreements over fundamental beliefs — between different religions.  I think most of the divisions and debates are pointless, but I understand them.  What I don’t understand is the virulent and vehement disagreement over discipleship and church membership.  What are our defining features? […]

We Are The Church… Together?

Yesterday, I posted a piece on the nature and purpose of the church, thinking it to be a fairly safe (but important) topic.  I received this email today, and share it (eliminating names and any reference to the specific congregation, and framing it as dialog — with the author’s permission). […]

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven

Church.  What a concept!  There are two simple questions I believe every congregation should take some time to seriously consider: 1) what is “church,” and, 2) what is church “for”?  We assume we know what church is, but much of what we think and believe is nothing more than validation […]

Brace for Impact

Why are we here?  I don’t have one answer that applies equally to all congregations, but I believe this question is THE question every congregation should discuss and wrestle with.  Why do we exist?  What difference are we making — in the lives of our members and friends, in our […]

The Passing of Power

George Steinbrenner died at 80.  This news brought to mind a flurry of memories and images.  When I was younger, I absolutely LOVED baseball.  I followed the Big Red Machine in the 1970s and memorized volumes of stats and stories.  There was something pure and fun and inspiring and simply […]

Balance

Want to know a secret?  The key to congregational vitality isn’t growth, it’s balance.  This shouldn’t be a secret — and it isn’t for about 10% of our United Methodist congregations — but sadly it is for the vast majority.  Ever since the late 20th century when we lost our […]

Time for Change

I was on the phone recently with a pastor lamenting that his church wasn’t growing.  Beginning his fifth year, he confessed that he thought there would be better signs of vitality.  We talked about what he was doing and he told me that in his relatively short stint as appointed […]

United Methodists Wanting to… What?

The United Methodist Church… wants to… what?  This is a question I asked for years when I worked for the General Board of Discipleship and travelled across the country.  I let people fill in the blank, then pressed to be sure I understood what they meant.  I came upon a […]

Contexistentialism

For a reader, a coffee shop is a frustrating tease.  Whenever I think about taking a good book to the coffee shop, I envision sitting cozy in one of the comfy chairs with a good cup of coffee, losing myself in whatever I am reading — perhaps with some good […]

Changing the World

The United Methodist Church is issuing a challenge: “Change the World.”  Billed as a “worldwide event,” this April 24-25 threshold event will show where the values, heart and soul of the UMC really is.  I am not talking about participation in this two-day event.  I am talking about whether it […]