“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 and affirmed your gifts – or simply thanked you… Read more

The Uncomfortable Circumstance That God Uses To Form A People

One distinctive of the missional movement is the emphasis on fully inhabiting the community in which we’re planted, and to shift from viewing our neighbors in terms of us (saved) and them (unsaved) toward a “we” orientation. This emphasis can be seen in books like Smith and Pattison’s Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus, The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches are Transforming Mission, Discipleship and Community by Sparks, Soerens, and Friesen, and Staying Is The New… Read more

Advent: 1 thing to try, 1 thing to taste

So many people are interested in being more intentional about learning about the Jewish and Christian calendars, but don’t quite know where to start. I’m very happy I can commend a resource that offers a thoughtful historical and devotional overview of each calendar, but also know that many people feel as through attempting to participate will be a pile-on of extra stuff to do (and extra guilt to feel if they can’t do it). And there is no time of year when… Read more

Lullaby Playlist

For the last few years, my husband and I have watched our grandsons Gabriel and Lio most Saturday evenings. Until recently, I was their Wednesday evening sitter, too. When our own three children were young, we had a dedicated bedtime routine that included prayer and a reading from a children’s devotional book. The 5-year age difference between Gabriel and Lio called for a slightly different approach to goodnight prayers. I began searching out classic, peaceful worship songs and hymns to… Read more

The Gift of Context In Worship

One of many gifts my Jewish identity offered to me was the deep conviction that the Old Testament and New Testament were a single, seamless narrative revealing God’s perfect nature and redemptive work among his created, beloved image-bearers. Though few Gentile Christians would disagree with that sentiment, I’ve learned many have a conflicted relationship with the first 75% or so of the pages in their Bibles. While this statement reflects the continuing trend toward Bible illiteracy in our churches, my… Read more

The Election and the Pentecostal/Charismatics

According to a 2011 Pew Forum survey, there are twice as many Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians in the world as there are Evangelicals. An earlier Barna survey notes that in the U.S., as many as a quarter of U.S. Christians identify as Pentecostal or Charismatic. There is a wide range of practice among these brothers and sister. Some attend Assemblies of God congregations or unaffiliated independent Charismatic churches; others belong to Evangelical, mainline Protestant or Catholic churches but keep their… Read more

You’re just in time…

From my most recent newsletter: I watched this week’s election returns with one eye on the TV, the other on my Twitter feed. By 1:30 a.m., I was seeing both screens via double vision. My brain had eclipsed its saturation point. Across the political spectrum, every commentator had one sentiment in common: “This is unprecedented! History is being written tonight.” No matter how we voted, I sense most of us agree we have opened the page to a disorienting –… Read more

Follow The Leader

I am of Paul. I am of Apollos. I am of John Piper or Jim Wallis or Jen Hatmaker or Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It was a first century problem, and it is a twenty-first century problem. It is perhaps most pronounced in the Protestant world. Our very spiritual DNA contains a desire to divide. As we lack a single hierarchical authority structure on which we can all agree, we are tempted to form our own tribes. Today, our Bible teachers… Read more

All The Saints

What’s a nice Jewish grandmother like me doing writing about All Saints Day? Obviously, this day isn’t in my own background, nor is it a day I covered in my book. Ever since I read Jon Sweeney’s excellent The Lure of Saints: A Protestant Experience of Catholic Tradition ten years ago, I’ve had an appreciation for the power of their testimonies in my own life and the awareness that the great cloud of witnesses cheering the Bride onward is made… Read more

Why Does Your Church Worship As It Does?

Much has been made of the longing among some believing Millennials for structure, reverence, and beauty in worship. Fewer smoke machines, more incense. I’ve certainly evidence of this desire among this demographic. But I see it among many in my own Boomer demographic, too, in a different form. Those who grew up in Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic, Episcopal, or Orthodox churches and made their way through a born-again experience into the Evangelical world (which is predominated by low church worship) found… Read more

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