Month: March 2019

This post is based, in part, on this post from 2017. It also incorporates some ideas from Radical Charity: How Generosity Can Save the World (And the Church). One of the strangest things that poverty skeptics try to do is redefine poverty. Most of us have a pretty intuitive definition of ‘poverty’: it means something like ‘not having enough money’ or ‘not having enough wealth’. Charity skeptics tend to make poverty about something other than money. Ruby Payne, for example, writes that “the ability to leave poverty is more dependent upon other resources than it is upon financial resources.”…
For Lent this year, a group of us is reading Rachel Held Evans’ book Searching for Sunday. I’ve read it before, of course. But one of the joys of having a book group for Lent is that I get to re-read it… carefully… with and eye toward talking about it. And one of the things that Held Evans does really well is describe why she—who has struggled with her conservative evangelical upbringing and with the wider church for years—is still a part of the Christian church. She writes this: At its best, the church functions much like a recovery…
This post is based, in part, on this post from 2017. Lent is a season of confession and penance, fasting and self-denial. Lent is a season of preparation for the greatest celebration on the church calendar. Lent is a season of preparing for Easter and the declaration of our faith: “Christ is risen. Christ is risen, indeed!” Lent is also the season when I receive the most emails promising the perfect method to turn visitors into lifelong members of my congregation. You see, there will be more people than usual in attendance at our Easter morning service—heck, we’ll even…
A simple truth: someone else having enough does not hurt me. There’s an episode of The Simpsons where Lisa, the smart and justice-oriented daughter of the title family accuses her hapless and dimwitted dad, Homer, or being jealous of Apu, the proprietor of the local Kwik-E-Mart, for… reasons. And Homer replies, “I’m not jealous, I’m envious. Jealousy is when you worry someone will take what you have. Envy is wanting what someone else has. What I feel is envy.” And Lisa checks a dictionary and is astonished to discover that Homer—again, hapless and dimwitted—is right. You will probably never…
I was very excited to receive the first pages of Radical Charity: How Generosity Can Save the World (And the Church) in mid/late-February. Mariah and I spent some serious time reading and re-reading every word of the book to find typos, update some information, fix some odd writing, and generally make the book a little better. I can now definitively say that signing off on those pages—saying, “Yes, this is how it should be, send it on to the next step”—is absolutely nerve-racking. My biggest perfectionist fear is finding a typo after the book is available for purchase (so…
It’s no secret that a lot of churches and small nonprofit organizations struggle with fundraising. I know a lot of these organizations whose members-who-are-responsible-for-fundraising feel like they are working harder every year to raise the same amount of money that they did the previous year. And I know more than a few who feel like they’re working harder every year—or every quarter, or every month, or every week—to raise less. A lot of fundraising in churches and small nonprofit organizations is just plain bad fundraising. It’s common fundraising knowledge that things like major gift visits and direct mail appeals…
Welcome to Lent. Lent is a strange season. Last week, I told you that it is traditionally a time of fasting and repentance. It is a time to think about who we are and who God wants us to be and how we get from the former to the latter. It is a time of contemplation… …a time to contemplate our mortality with ashes on our heads and the whispered words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.” …a time to contemplate our transgressions with prayer and self-denial and the words of a voice calling…
There are some things you need to know. Maybe some things you just forgot. A couple of weeks ago, I talked a little bit about numbers. I talked a little bit about the numbers that I obsess over. I talked a little bit about how I keep track of our attendance and membership and giving. And I talked a little bit about how I feel better about myself when those numbers are higher. That wasn’t the core message of the sermon, but still… I know that there are people in this sanctuary who dream of being a big church,…

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