Why isn’t our church like that conference?

"Why isn't this church like that conference?"A friend recently reported that her teen daughter asked her this question after attending a teaching and worship event that drew thousands of people from across the U.S.  The young woman had experienced the sweet intensity that occurs when a large group of people is gathered for a single, focused purpose. She came home ready to change the world, and sat through a typical church service or two before she realized that though the conference … [Read more...]

How do you say “potpourri” in Japanese?

A Saturday afternoon grab bag:If you like books and book reviews, you'll want to bookmark the Englewood Review of Books website. Every Tuesday and Friday, a thoughtful variety of book reviews are posted, along with an occasional poem or music review. Browse the site to give yourself a sense of the breadth of the sorts of books covered there. Both Bill and I began reviewing for the site earlier this year. (You can search for our reviews by typing our names in the search box.) One of my ERB … [Read more...]

The real deal

"When they arrive at the gates of death, God welcomes those who love him." - Ps. 116:15 MSG  I remember where I was* in 1982 when I heard the news that Keith Green died. Though I'd never met him in person, his life message of radical discipleship shaped me more than the sermons I sat through in church most Sundays. He was the real deal. I remember the "oh no..." roller-coaster drop I got in my gut in 1997 when someone told me that Rich Mullins had died in an accident near Bloomington, IL. … [Read more...]

Review: 66 Love Letters

There has been a (welcome) shift in many corners of Evangelicalism in recent years toward story-shaped preaching and teaching. Many pastors and writers have discovered that three alliterative points have more to do with activating short-term memory than engaging spiritual imagination and motivating long-term growth.Dr. Larry Crabb understands this shift. His rich teaching and counseling ministry have been all about helping people connect deeply with The Story, one that's bigger than any single … [Read more...]

Express yourself

Our youngest son Jacob, 23, regularly surprises us as he'll offhandedly recount a little snippet of a childhood memory. He remembers the shape of trees, the location of a neighborhood kid war, the texture of food on a plate. I've long since forgotten the details that are vivid brushstrokes inside of him.He's an artist now (illustration major at Northern Illinois University), and this deep gift of perception spills onto his canvases and sketch pads. Perception for him is more than just an … [Read more...]

Chicken soup season of life

About as long as I can remember, the fall, winter and spring seasons have been punctuated by fairly predictable bouts of bronchitis/sinus infections, usually at least two doozies a year. This week, like clockwork, a sinus infection ambushed me, and even the twice-a-day doses of unpleasant antibiotics didn't work much magic on the misery. When my kids were little and I was sick, I would run from activity to activity with them, only slowing down if I was running a fever - or, in one memorable … [Read more...]

The Big C Church

"They're all here to hear John Ortberg, don't you think?" a first-time attendee at this morning's Catalyst Lake County "Bonfire" gathering wondered aloud. Warm conversation filled the room as 400+ congregational leaders, community builders, non-profit heads and church champions representing over 75 churches from Lake County, IL (and beyond) spent the morning talking, laughing, weeping, schmoozing, worshiping and praying together. Hearing a well-known speaker like Ortberg was definitely a … [Read more...]