The One Thing that Matters in a Changing Church

A dear friend, who recently converted to Catholicism, told this story about a recent experience at church: This past Easter I was given a Rosary from a friend in commemoration of my having completed the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) process and entered the Catholic Church. Ours is a fairly large church for a rural area: about 1,200 families from several counties in north Texas and southern Oklahoma. We serve a large area partly because we are a place where Hispanic families can … [Read more...]

Evangelicals, Donald Trump, and 4 Lessons in Politics for the Church

The meeting that a handful of Evangelicals had with Donald Trump this week has something to teach Evangelicals and Christians of every stripe.One:Meetings of this kind run the risk of painting the whole of a segment of the Christian community in terms that appear unified and homogenous. Christians -- even hyphenated Christians (Evangelical-Christians, Progressive-Christians, Roman Catholic-Christians, etc.) -- do not see their faith or political issues in the same way.But when a … [Read more...]

Four Reasons for Abandoning the Term, Post-Christian

The potted definition of Post-Christianity that Wikipedia offers, summarizes as well as any, a term that is frequently used to describe the challenge that the contemporary church faces: “the loss of the primacy of the Christian worldview in political affairs, especially in the Global North where Christianity had previously flourished, in favor of alternative worldviews such as secular nationalism.[2] It includes personal world views, ideologies, religious movements or societies that are no longe … [Read more...]

7 Things that Pentecost has to teach The United Methodist Church — and the rest of us

Here we are, one day after Pentecost and life is back to normal.Hearing the text of the Book of Acts read in multiple languages was exhilarating last week. This week it feels like happy-talk.Watching my United Methodist sisters and brothers navigate yet another General Conference is painful. It is difficult to watch the members of a great church with a rich tradition struggle to remain civil with one another. I am mindful of just how much those dynamics have been a part of my own … [Read more...]

4 Ways Spiritual Direction Could Change the Church

There are times when, as theological educators, we have the rare privilege of not only contributing to a discipline, but we also get a front row seat to historic change.The practice of spiritual direction has entered one of those history-making chapters.Spiritual direction is a structured effort to listen for the voice of God with the assistance of a one-on-one relationship with a spiritual director or companion who provides space for that effort and asks questions that prompt the … [Read more...]

4 Ways Teaching in a Seminary is Different

 Some weeks ago, I polled my Facebook friends, asking this question “What gifts, skills, values, or knowledge do you value in a priest, pastor, or minister that a seminary can help your clergy acquire?”The survey was hardly scientific in nature, so I can’t claim any statistical validity for the responses. But it was a fairly large, committed, and thoughtful group of laypeople and clergy.The responses were interesting.One cluster of answers revolved around preaching and litur … [Read more...]

4 Ways the Culture Misunderstands Spiritual Formation

For much of the late 20th Century and all of the early 21st Century, an increasing number of people have described themselves as “spiritual, but not religious.”Even if that trend left the church at some disadvantage in speaking to the needs of a growing segment of the population, the development was a welcome one. It was also a wake up call to a church that had allowed an important dimension of its experience to slip to the margins of its life.The church’s failure to do that work, howev … [Read more...]


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