Category: The Church

Over the course of nine months or so this year, my congregation worked on a complete revision of our church by-laws. We adopted the new by-laws by an overwhelming margin on November 17. It was a huge process—involving every single committee in the church—and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Sometime in the future, I might write a little bit about our process and some of the best practices we are trying to implement, but for this post I want to focus on our new governance structure. I think it will work very well. And I think…
I’ll start by putting this mildly: the church has an uncertain position in modern society. Fewer people identify as Christian, fewer people attend or otherwise support the church, and fewer people trust the church to exercise moral authority. There are reasons for that. Some of them are good, and some of them are bad. But it is indisputable that the church’s social position is uncertain. And yet… Every so often, I see requests for the church to simply solve—or make a major dent in solving—some big social problem. The most recent example is this perspective piece in the Washington…
A week-and-a-half-ago or so, I attended the United Church of Christ’s General Synod in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is a time when a couple thousand people from across the denomination gather together to vote on resolutions, attend workshops and rallies, learn about what is happening in the denomination, hang out together, and worship. It is both amazing and exhausting. And while I wasn’t great about taking photos, I did take some. FacebookTwitterLinkedInredditBuffer…
Recently, I was perusing the workshops that will be offered at the United Church of Christ’s General Synod this summer and I came across one with this title: “Thawing the ‘Frozen Chosen’”. I have no problem with the content of the workshop, which is about using and teaching liturgical movement. But seeing the title made me realize just how tired of the term ‘frozen chosen’ I am. The idea behind ‘frozen chosen’ is simple enough. Different congregations and denominations have different traditions around movement and sound. Some churches are full of dancing in the pews, clapping during the hymns,…
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…
I attend a lot of church meetings. And I’ve been attending these meetings for years. This includes the meetings where we have conversations — sometimes they’re very difficult conversations — about money. We talk about how we’re going to raise the money we need in order to do the things we do, from supporting a local program that provides lunch food for youth while school is on summer break, to sending our adults on mission trips, to paying our musicians, to telling people in our community that we exist. We talk about how we’re going to spend the money we have….
According to legend, Stephen was the first Christian martyr. One of the seven deacons appointed by the apostles to distribute food to widows in the community, he was full of grace and power, and a compelling speaker. He was arrested for blasphemy, brought before the Sanhedrin, and stoned.1Acts 6:1-7:60 And that’s an important story. The early Christians faced real persecution at the hands of the political and religious authorities of Judea and Rome. People died. More than that, people were killed by the machinery of power. In some parts of the world, modern Christians face similar threats. According to…
The post that set this post off is an old one from John Pavlovitz: The Church of Not Being Horrible. The core of that post is a common one. What we really need — what would cut to the heart of the Christian gospel and maybe even all religion — is a church that understands the importance of not being horrible to each other. Maybe we even need a church that embraces that ethic; a church that takes not being horrible to each other as its mission. Here is what Pavlovitz writes: I’m starting a new church: the Church of Not…
Last week, my denomination — the United Church of Christ — released a bit of bad news. Fourteen people were laid off as the national setting of the denomination reorganized itself around new mission priorities.  Among the transitions are the combining of operations and global ministries; the combining of justice work and local church ministries; and the combining of Publishing, Identity, and Communication with the Office of Philanthropy and Stewardship to form an Office of Philanthropy and Marketing. As a colleague and friend who used to work at the national offices pointed out on Facebook, this continues a precipitous decline in…
Recently, I’ve had a few conversations about church membership. The simple fact is that most mainline congregations are facing declining and aging memberships, and some of the congregations want to do something about it. And I always answer the same way: I’m not concerned with membership; I’m concerned with engagement. Membership in most mainline congregations is a formality. Someone who has been coming to worship for a while might take a membership class where they learn things about that congregation and its denomination. Then they stand in front of the congregation some Sunday morning and make some promises. And…

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