Sinking Ships: 6 Do’s, and One Big Don’t, for Fundraising

Ever been on a sinking ship? I have. Literally.But not for long. Because the minute I figured out it was going down, I bailed. That’s what you DO when the boat’s in trouble… you get yourself elsewhere. Quickly.Which is why “sinking ship fundraising” doesn't work.If you’ve ever been connected with an institution for any amount of time—a church, school, non-profit, or civic body—you’ve gotten "the pitch." Maybe it was an email, a paper letter, a phone call, or an appeal at a large g … [Read more...]

More than Half Enough

Guest post, by Rev. Ryan Motter“Well, look at you.  You’re half the man you used to be.”It was in the line after worship, standing at the back door as we shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.  The other congregation members were offering gentle reminders: “Don’t forget the Youth meeting on Wednesday,”  “Please remember that I’m having that procedure tomorrow morning,”  “I’ll be out of town for the next three weeks.  Pray for me.”From these folks, she comes up and places her hands on … [Read more...]

Home By Another Way

I'm at my denomination's General Assembly this week. Every other year, in the HOTTEST PART OF THE SUMMER, Disciples of Christ descend on some unsuspecting town--usually in the Midwest--and share a time of worship, workshops, celebration and visioning. There are business sessions too. So I hear...Anyway, there's lots of STUFF going on, every minute of every day. At times, I've left my room at 7 in the morning and not gotten back until after midnight. (In a complete state of sensory overload, … [Read more...]

Cloud By Day: Living With Ambiguity and Measuring Ministry

In every generation, people of faith journey across the hazy plains of “What does this mean,” and “why are we here?” Right about the time one band of believers establishes a clear sense of purpose and identity for their time and place…well, they die. It is time for them to step aside and let the kids figure out what’s next, with nothing but "a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night" to guide them. And is that ever a painful hand-off, every single time.We can wax poetic and … [Read more...]

Holy Edges: 10 Things to Preach if Your Church is Divided on Gay Marriage

It’s going to be a great day at my church tomorrow. My congregation has been open and affirming since before that was a thing. So at our place, the news of the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage will be met with rejoicing. There will be a special prayer. There will probably be cheering. We might haul the kids’ noisemakers out of the closet. I know, and it’s not even Christmas!But in other congregations, there will be a sharp, icy chill in the air. I’m not talking about the churches where everyone— … [Read more...]

Good Call: 10 Ways to Nail that Pastoral Search Interview

It's that time again. All over the country, exhausted pastoral search committees plow through another pile of profiles, fumble with the technology for another round of Skype interviews, and miss another week of family dinner times to make a series of reference-check phone calls. Meanwhile, pastors sit anxiously by the phone, like they are waiting for the daggone quarterback to call on a Friday night, just hoping for that next small sign of hope: "we are moving ahead in our selection process, and … [Read more...]

10 Signs of Life: Your Church Might Just Make It

I once took a group of church leaders on a planning/visioning retreat. We read and discussed a great article, something to the effect of “10 Traits of a Healthy Church.” Or a growing church... Thriving church? Something like that. And it wasn’t the usual variation on a theme, this particular piece was insightful and inspired. And it was exactly the right mix of challenge and affirmation for where that congregation was at the time.In preparation for a similar gathering this week, I tried to fi … [Read more...]

Holy Week Survival Guide: 10 Life Hacks for Clergy

Deep breath. Inward Ommmmmmmmmmmm. It is Holy Week! Lace up your sprinting shoes, get ready to stress eat and drink way too much coffee, and tell your family that you will see them next Monday. No wait—Monday, you hibernate. Tuesday, for sure!  You will be down for breakfast on Tuesday. Or at least lunch… Something about that pattern seems not-so-holy, though. Sure, it’s going to be busy. You will need caffeine and adrenaline and the Holy Spirit to power through. And yet… we clergy types often w … [Read more...]

Talking to Strangers

It was Sunday morning. I stopped at my favorite, may or may not have chosen my new house based on proximity to this place, donut joint to buy a couple dozen for our new member class. (I win souls for the Lord with vanilla glazed and pumpkin spice varieties).It was early. Still dark out. There was one other person in the place, and I mean, she looked normal enough… She was being pretty chatty with the register girl, so I jumped into the conversation. Because hey, it’s Sunday morning, there’s a … [Read more...]