The Megachurch Infection

The megachurch infection may lead to the eventual death of Christian connection, also known as the church. Let me explain. In 2014/2015, I did a series of “Mystery Worships” where I visited a different church each week and wrote a newspaper column about it. After noting a “meh” response to one church we attended, I thought I’d [Read More…]

Do we want tight doctrinal standards or do we want to follow Jesus?

After spending much of 2014 and 2015 visiting churches, I have become increasingly aware that people flock to church groups with tight doctrinal standards. As many note, these still show growth both in the US and overseas. The more theologically progressive mainline denominations with looser doctrinal boundaries show declining numbers. The more rapidly growing churches rarely ordain women [Read More…]

Hypocrisy, shame, politics and religion

Hypocrisy is the ultimate death blow, whether it be politics or religion. And in the US, the two are inextricably linked together. Shame on us both. From the full article reprinted below, this comment leaped off the page: One Republican bundler who has worked closely with the Republican National Committee in the past was incensed, [Read More…]

Darkness came over the whole land–and we prefer the darkness

As we repeatedly mend the curtain, as we reinforce the barrier with each stitch, we work to make sure the darkness stays. Everyone has heard that, at the moment of Jesus’ crucifixion, darkness came over the whole land. But few seem to know or understand what follows, “At that moment [the moment of Jesus’ death [Read More…]

Insurance for dummies and suggestions for the church

I’ve read most of it. All the analyses about the AHCA (“Trumpcare” or “Ryancare”), the proposed GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) have taken residence in my brain. I’ve also logged countless hours in conversation with an expert in the insurance world. So now I now offer a quick, admittedly simplistic summary for [Read More…]

Help! Do we ignore, avoid, or confront evil?

Evil is often disguised in a subtle call to comfort, to security, to safety. It will involve only the smallest of compromises. Dear Thoughtful Pastor: There is evil in the world, at many levels, from government and business, down to communities and ourselves. On encountering evil, what is our Christian responsibility, either as a church [Read More…]

The year everything broke

All of us live in the tensions between creation and re-creation. Nothing is stasis or particularly stable or immune from breaking. Last night, the dishwasher broke. (The repair service showed up promptly, fixed the problem but indicated that the fix is only temporary–we will be needing to replace it soon). Before that: The new coffee grinder [Read More…]

Church: take notice–people are leaving and not coming back

We all know the church ship is rapidly sinking. What fascinates me about the United Methodist Church is how little we seem to care. Instead, we wasted at least a generation and a massive amount of money with arguments over petty issues, and especially over petty issues that make us look like a bunch of [Read More…]

The Brother printer, customer service and the church

Bissell vs Brother Customer service at its worst. Endless correspondence, multiple useless fixes, and a relatively new, what should be long-lasting workhorse black and white Brother laser printer is now destined for the trash heap–or where ever I can take a piece of broken electronics where its burying place will not further pollute the environment. [Read More…]

Ask the Thoughtful Pastor: Popes then, celebrity pastors now?

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: When you were in Europe recently, did you learn anything while seeing historic Christianity that would give you insight as to how it affects your understanding of the way Christianity is practiced in the US today? After spending several weeks in a land where a town only four hundred years old is [Read More…]