Church R Us

Within a 30-40 minute drive of my home, there are at least 3 non-denominational evangelical megachurches with multiple sites. (If you're unfamiliar with the concept of multi-site churches, you can learn more here or here.) Detractors use words like "McChurch" or "Microdenomination" to describe these efforts, while champions of these plural congregations celebrate the big church/small church organizational benefits inherent in their franchise structure. What's interesting about the multi-site … [Read more...]

Hey writers!

If you're a writer living within driving distance of Chicago, here's something just for you:I'm a part of the team coordinating this year's 14th annual Karitos, the Christian Arts conference to be held July 31-August 2 in Bolingbrook, IL. Last year, nearly 500 people attended Karitos, and attended workshops taught by expert instructors in creative disciplines including literary arts, dance, vocal performance, the music business and worship. You can learn more about the conference here.This year, … [Read more...]

My brain is fellowshipping with…

...these recent reads:Writing Tides: Finding Grace and Growth Through Writing by Kent Ira Groff(Because I need an occasional writing book to push me in new directions as a scribe)11 Indispensible Relationships You Can't Be Without by Len Sweet(Because Len Sweet is a master of synthesis, a good thinker, and sees the world in fresh ways. The title makes it sound like a John Maxwell book, but thankfully, its not)Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson(Because I'll try fiction from time to time, especially if … [Read more...]

Marking time

At the end of this month, it'll be four years since we left WI. Depending on how you look at it, it was either a hasty departure (our house sold one day after hitting the MLS listings) or a long time coming (we lived there for 9 challenging years - and those years were shaped by our leadership roles in 2 wildly different congregations). We initially considered trying to return to Chicago in 2000, but chose to stay in order to serve at the second church. Some amazing things were happening there, … [Read more...]

Gather up the fragments

I was reading John's account of how Jesus turned the ancient equivalent of a Fish McNugget Happy Meal (sans the movie-themed toy) into a party for 5000 men, plus the women and children accompanying them.Today I was struck by these verses:"When they were filled, He said to His disciples, 'Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.'So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten." - John … [Read more...]

I would read anything written by ________

I received a survey from the editorial team at this magazine in the mail yesterday. They were looking for information about my response to the most current issue, as well as seeking to obtain some general feedback about both the magazine and current evangelical topography. One question I particularly liked was the one where they asked me to fill in the blank:"I would read anything written by _________" I assumed they meant living authors, since the survey came from a magazine's editorial team. I … [Read more...]

Waiting’s soundtrack

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." - Zeph. 3:17Two days ago while I was at work, I got this phone call from my son Ben. He told me he wasn't feeling right, as in "I'm not feeling right and I think I need to go to the ER". In the last year, this kid has had a miserable case of H.Pylori and an ongoing battle with a hiatal hernia and GERD. He's used to feeling lousy, but … [Read more...]

20 and counting

Over 20 Chicago Public School students have been killed so far this year, most with handguns. (I believe two additional students have lost their lives since this story ran in last week's Chicago Tribune.)These stories blur together on the nightly news: the impromptu memorials of flowers, notes and stuffed animals; the police statements; the community marches and initiatives meant to curb gun violence; the weeping families. It is the cries of devastated family members that echo in my head long … [Read more...]

My poodle ate it

I just wanted them to do what I'd asked of them. But week after week, about half the middle-school kids in my home school writing group would show up without their writing work done. Since my class plans depended heavily on having each of them share their writing with the group so we could discuss it, this pattern was putting a huge crimp in my ability to actually teach them anything. Though my improv skills grew as a result of the ongoing need to come up with Plan B when some or most of them … [Read more...]

Keep it sorta simple

Last week, our household received a postcard from our local megachurch, advertising its Easter service schedule. There were multiple services, designed to invite people to consider the empty tomb. It occurred to me that the numerous identical services strung at regular intervals across Saturday night and Sunday AM were not too different from Catholic mass schedules around here, especially on big C & E (Christmas and Easter) weekends. Though non-denominational services are different from … [Read more...]