Leaders in the progressive church-y world are always looking for ‘The Thing.’ You know, the perfect curriculum, book, or teaching tool for that one group, or this one season. What we often fine is that ‘the thing’ with the most engaging activities, the colorful promo materials, and the user-friendly leader guide—has terrible theology. No depth, lots of bloody Jesus language, and heavy on patriarchy and/or prosperity gospel. On the flip-side: ‘the thing’ with layers of meaning, challenging questions, and inclusive… Read more

20 years ago today, the pilot episode of Friends aired in primetime on NBC. 20 YEARS, you guys. Seriously. This article says the show is as popular today, in re-runs, as it was back then. I’d believe it, too. Even though you watch and go, ‘wow, it’s weird that they don’t have cell phones,’ or ‘dang, Rachel’s jeans always seemed cool at the time…what happened?’ the show has joined the ranks of Truly Timeless Televiewing. Many will say it’s because that… Read more

Sometimes other clergy ask for advice on how to balance being a pastor and a parent. So here, I’m going to give you 10 never-fail secrets to getting it all right at church and at home, keeping up your self-care and personal appearance, while having a smile on your face at all times. Lol, people. L.O.L. The truth is, there is no such list, and if anybody tells you they have one, they’re a lying *#%&^$#@!. When people ask how… Read more

I just keep thinking about that tree. You know the one. It stood in the center of the garden. Everything else seemed to grow out from its center, and lean in towards it at the same time. Drawn to its vibrant color, its fragrance, the life that seemed to hum from within. Everything else in the garden depended on that one tree for air and light. So the gardener told the tourists not to touch it. To please not pluck its… Read more

The following is from week 2 of the sermon series “Doors and Windows: Faces of Faith in Transition.” Since many of you followed last week’s conversation about “Mapping the Message,” I thought you might like to see the product of all that series planning. I really enjoyed sharing some of the creative process, and I hope we can talk more about that soon!  Meanwhile, read on for some thoughts on finding that still, small voice–even when all around us feels like chaos. … Read more

When I write about pastoral life, I try to make it interesting and/or useful to readers who aren’t clergy. There is almost always a spiritual or practical truth that applies to a broader audience. That said—if you are not a vocational minister, the following might literally bore you TO DEATH, and I don’t want to be responsible for that. Read on if you wish. But I won’t be offended if you go cruise another blog and come back here tomorrow… Read more

I was not the mom sobbing into my latte. Nor was I the mom skipping and cheering down the hall because it was my first moment of freedom in 5 years.  I WAS, however, the mom frantically stashing school supplies into the cubby because I did not know to bring them on meet-the-teacher night. So I was also the mom noticing that I was suddenly the last parent in the room, as the teacher started her welcome routine.  And mostly,… Read more

When I was little, my dad bought the soundtrack (cassette tape, of course) to Good Morning, Vietnam. For a time, we listened to it in the car. All the time. I knew every word to every song. And I also knew the dialogue. Dad probably thought I was too young to ‘get’ some of the  more crass humor (he was right); and that I was too little to catch the bad language (wrong!). Thing is, even though I didn’t really understand… Read more

Listen: Yesterday I went to rural Missouri with some youth and other church folks. We spent the day working with Migrant Farmworkers Assistance Fund. This program connects workers arriving in late summer for harvest season with vital resources and services — assistance with food, clothing, dental care, school registration and more. Our congregation has supported this organization for many years. Since we have a sister community in a small village in El Salvador, working with MFAF is our answer to… Read more

While flipping through radio stations, I came upon a show where the morning hosts asked people to call in and ‘tell me something good.’ I thought, hey, people sharing good news. I like good news. So I stopped to listen and heard some nice stories about recovered health and restored relationships. The beauty of the day or a joy of a fresh start. Then a guy called in and said this: “Yeah, with all this stuff going on in the… Read more

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