A New Adventure (and Refocusing the Blog)

For the last five-and-a-half years (plus a bit), I’ve been the church relations associate at Back Bay Mission, a community ministry of the United Church of Christ in Biloxi, Mississippi. Now I’m preparing to move on to a new adventure. Soon, I’ll have my first day as pastor at First Congregational United Church of Christ in DeWitt, Iowa.

I’ll be honest. I’m both excited and nervous to take on my first pastoral position. There are many parts of the work of a pastor that I love, and there are many aspects of this congregation that I think I’ll love. At the same time, there’s no way to know exactly what to expect. There are going to bumps and bruises and the people of this community and I learn to be together as a church. But I’m looking forward to this new thing. I’m excited to see where the spirit will take us.

I’m also going to miss Back Bay Mission. I will miss visiting churches across the United States. I will miss board meetings at the Mission. I will miss the day to day work of fundraising. I will miss friends and colleagues who are working every day to strengthen neighborhoods, seek justice, and transform lives.

This is a big change… and I’m glad to be making it.

This transition also means that some changes will be coming to the blog. For example, I hope that First Congregational will have a website where I can post my sermons and some other ‘churchy’ musings. I may link to that content from here, I may crosspost that content, but content and schedules will change.

One of the things I’m hoping to do is refocus this blog. When I started this version of the blog in December of 2015, I was focused on defending charity from its detractors. Over the last couple of years, I’ve added posts about fundraising, politics, and other topics. I’m glad I did, and I don’t regret anything I’ve written. But it’s time to get back to the basics.

Going forward, I’m going to focus this blog on three subjects:

  • Charity (including the history, philosophy, and theology of charity)
  • Fundraising, stewardship, and communications for churches
  • Some ‘being a pastor’ topics like scheduling and energy management

Of course, I’ll talk about some other things, too. That’s just what I’m planning on spending the most time on.

I hope you’ll join me.

Right now, there is a movement in churches and nonprofits arguing that charity is toxic, that helping hurts, and that the entire nonprofit sector needs to be reformed to truly lift people out of poverty. These charity skeptics are telling Christians that traditional charity deepens dependency, fosters a sense of entitlement, and erodes the work ethic of people who receive it. Charity skepticism is increasingly popular; and it is almost certainly wrong.

Now available from Wipf and Stock’s Cascade Books imprint, Radical Charity: How Generosity Can Save the World (And the Church) weaves together research and scholarship on topics as diverse as biblical scholarship, Christian history, economics, and behavioral psychology to tell a different story. In this story, charity is the heart of Christianity and one of the most effective ways that we can help people who are living in poverty. Charity—giving to people experiencing poverty without any expectation of return or reformation—can save the world and help make God’s vision for the church a reality.

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