The Limits to Professional Boundaries

Over the years I’ve seen and read a number of articles about professional boundaries and their application to work in the church. Much of that literature is very helpful and stakes out areas where abuse and exploitation are all too possible. One has to be grateful for the reminders that literature provides and the protection that it offers for those who might be vulnerable in one way or another. The literature on boundaries also serves to remind people who work… Read more

My God Only Punishes People I Don’t Like

There should be a special place in purgatory for people who use theology to bludgeon their neighbors. And they almost always surface at times when tragedy strikes, ready to pronounce on its significance – for others, of course. As Kimberly Winston notes, when Superstorm Sandy hit New York in 2012, John McTernan who runs USA Prophecy attributed the storm’s impact to God’s anger over “’the homosexual agenda.’” Franklin Graham blamed Hurricane Katrina on orgies in New Orleans and Buster Willson… Read more

Do you want your church?

Do you want your church? When I went to seminary in the seventies, the church was a given. I don’t recall the language of church growth and church planting figuring prominently, if at all, in the conversations we had, and we certainly weren’t talking about “the decline of the mainline church” or “the end of the Protestant Reformation.” My classmates were a conscientious lot and, in truth, I suppose we worried more about doing a good and faithful job than… Read more

8 Things We Can — and Should Do — in Response to Charlottesville

Plainly and without question, both the hatred and prejudice expressed last night in Charlottesville and the attack on counter-protesters today are murderous acts.  Neither the words nor the actions of these self-styled supremacists are protected by the Constitution.  Nor is there any way in which to justify behavior of this kind as even remotely “Christian.”  Indeed, the religious and patriotic patina wrapped around the rhetoric of this group is reminiscent of the entirely cynical manipulation of the Gospel by Adolf… Read more

“Yes, And-ing” the Next Generation

Note: The following guest article is by my friend, Ashley Mowers.  I invited Ashley to respond to last week’s article on generational differences for reasons that will be immediately obvious.  Ashley is Community Life Architect at National Institute for Community – Community Life Program.  She is also an adjunct professor at Judson University and she begins working on a Doctor of Philosophy at St. Andrews University in Scotland next autumn.  You can follow Ashley at any of the following: https://www.facebook.com/MinMaxPod/ https://twitter.com/minmaxpod https://twitter.com/deedee_k… Read more

4 Ways to Change the Way in Which We Think About Generational Differences

We have the good fortune of living in a world in which an ever-greater number of generations share the world at the same time. Advances in nutrition and medical care have increased our life expectancy. But what we have failed to do is to begin re-thinking the way in which we think about mentoring, aging, and sharing the tasks that lie ahead of us in creating a stronger, healthier society. Read more

Charlie Gard: 3 Lessons Learned

I’ve spent a bit of time following the story of Charlie Gard this summer. First as covered by American news outlets and then, while on vacation, as covered by reporters in the United Kingdom. As you might remember, Charlie Gard is the child of two parents seeking permission to travel to the United States in order to seek treatment for their son that is considered a last-ditch, extraordinary effort to save his life. The court said “no” to the parents’… Read more

Let us be the Church

  As the news spills out from every corner of the globe and as our capacity as a nation to respond seems to evaporate, I’ve found myself thinking about the church. What is the church? How should the church respond? And why is it that too many Christians seem to be indistinguishable from their political counterparts in describing a way forward? We are equally at war with one another. We are armed with the same capacity for vulgarity and name-calling…. Read more

Keeping the Partisan Faith

A new study by political scientists notes that clergy, on the whole, are more partisan than their parishioners. You can read the study here. Which raises the question: If clergy are tasked to “keep the faith,” exactly what “faith” is it that they “keep?” The faith of their respective religious traditions or the faith of their partisan political commitments? The study would suggest that far too often, it’s the latter. And that’s not a good thing. The immediate protest to… Read more

5 Patterns that Erode the Ability of Leaders to Lead

Pastors work in what students of organization call “loosely linked bureaucracies.” What experts mean by that phrase is that clergy are largely unsupervised. Even in churches with bishops or district superintendents at the denominational level and boards or administrative councils at the local level, there is a good deal of work that many pastors do without immediate oversight. It is not surprising, then, that patterns in leadership emerge on the congregational level that are corrosive – corrosive to the ministries… Read more