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...]

Welcome to Zebra World!

"When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses not zebras." - Attributed to Dr. Theodore WoodwardA doctor gave this bit of homespun advice to a a group of medical students as a way of telling them to focus on the most obvious causes for an illness when a patient came in search of help, rather than using all their newfound medical knowledge to hunt for rare diseases they'd just learned about in a textbook. That is wise advice, unless you happen to be a patient who is, in fact, a zebra.I … [Read more...]

Read, Reading, Gonna Read

I love a long conversation over coffee with a friend. Before I was old enough to drink coffee, books were my favorite conversation partners and most trusted friends. They still hold a prime spot in my heart. The not-so-good ones give me food for thought, if only to remind me to do something different in my own writing. Good books educate, provoke, or inspire. Great ones do all three.The long weeks of illness combined with the shut-in-life that is late winter in Chicago gave me plenty of … [Read more...]

At The Intersection Of Time & Eternity: Passover

When I was a kid, my family would gather in the Skokie, IL apartment of my grandparents for a Passover Seder. My grandfather read what seemed like every page of the Haggadah (order of service; the liturgy for the ceremonial meal) published by Maxwell House coffee. The house was filled with the smell of matzo ball soup, long-cooking brisket, and a table-groaning variety of sides warming in the oven, and it seemed torture to sit at the table and wait for the best meal of the year while Grampy and … [Read more...]

Blogging Is So 2010

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. - Mark Twain I attended the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI last weekend. As usual, it was an incredible gathering of writers and readers, and my heart is stuffed to overflowing with the treasures from seminars and conversations.One bit of information I'm still processing are the continuing announcements from famous, infamous, and not-famous-at-all bloggers that they're suspending or greatly dialing back t … [Read more...]

Put Down The Church Attendance Scorecard

Church leaders are bound to remark about attendance. Maybe your pastor emphasizes the importance of prioritizing the Sunday gathering. Maybe the announcements about small groups stress how true commitment to the church means attending Wednesday night gatherings and dedicating extra time to live “life on life” throughout the week. Many hear these reminders as genuine concern for attendees’ spiritual health, but for some of us, it feels like peer pressure. [Read more] … [Read more...]

Unintended Consequences Of The Jesus Movement: Liturgy As Commercial

The lights dim, and the band takes the stage.The worship leader welcomes the crowd with a boisterous "Hey, how's everyone doin'? Great to see you all!" before the band slips into a booming, clever cover of a pop song, then segues into a couple of modern sing-a-long worship standards pulled right from heavy rotation on the positive, encouraging Christian radio station.A carefully-curated selection of announcements and a prayer follows, creating space for ushers/hosts to collect the offering … [Read more...]