Blue Christmas

Contrary to the song lyrics, it’s not the most wonderful time of the year for many of us. The jingle bell merriness of the season is like an out-of-tune gong for those grieving the deaths of family members or friends, struggling in the wake of a divorce, suffering the effects of broken relationships, experiencing financial hardship, or dealing with the effects of physical or mental illness in themselves or their loved ones.My family has been marked in recent years by each one of these l … [Read more...]

“Thank you for your service” at Church

Popular speaker and author Jen Hatmaker’s recent interview with Jonathan Merrittaffirming same-sex relationships led Lifeway to stop carrying her books. The uproar surrounding both this interview and Lifeway’s decision kicked off a helpful conversation in the blogosphere about, among other things, the way in which conference events have served to outsource women’s ministry from the local church.Jesus Creed-reading women, I’d love to hear from you. Have your congregational leaders recognized a … [Read more...]

Church Leaders: Distrust And Obey?

There are some very good reasons for church leaders not to trust a congregant. Some are obstructionists, determined to resist all change. Others engage in politicking and clique-forming. Still others enter the church with agendas, addictions, or abusive tendencies.There is wisdom in maintaining good boundaries with a member possessing toxic tendencies that must be balanced with the call to shepherd even the balky or difficult sheep, not just the lovable ones.But sometimes distrust … [Read more...]

When Fading Away Becomes “Done”

“Who will officiate at my funeral?” My friend Liz asked this question during a pause in our conversation earlier this week. “I don’t have a church these days.”Other important questions were bundled within her question: What have I gained by pouring myself into church for years? Where is my community now that I’m aging, divorced, and in poor health? Who will walk beside me during this stage of my life?I first met Liz when our kids were toddlers together in the church nursery. Our friendshi … [Read more...]

Good Question: Why Is There A Menorah On The Altar?

If anything, worshipping at a liturgical church has enhanced my gratitude for years of Jewish education and synagogue attendance. Studying the two thousand years of Jewish history pre-dating Jesus' birth has helped me appreciate the structure and content of Christian liturgy as well as the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. It has helped me understand how Confirmation could sometimes be characterized as a 'sacrament in search of a theology.' And it certainly enhances my worship experience … [Read more...]

Post-church church leaders: Now what?

What do these people have in common?The single woman in her mid-thirties with $40,000 worth of seminary debt now working as an office manager for a software vendor.The former youth pastor now installing replacement windows for a home-improvement company.The veteran minister with 20 years of pastoral experience now an anonymous attender at another congregation after losing his job when a nasty split took place in his old church.Each aimed at vocational ministry, believing … [Read more...]

Unintended Consequences Of The Jesus Movement: Voting Republican

Remember when we were gonna not only change the world, but completely rearrange it?The Jesus Movement was seeded by the Spirit in the soil of the massive social unrest of the 1960's. Many Boomers who came of age during this era learned that the military-industrial cabal responsible for U.S. involvement in Viet Nam, the Cold War, Agent Orange, and Wonder Bread needed to be dismantled. Young people discovered their voices as they questioned authority in the form of dissent, protest, and in … [Read more...]