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...]

5 Keys to Surviving Spiritually as a Leader in the Church

Over the last three years, my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Mark Fowler has invited me to speak to his leadership class about the spiritual challenges that a leader in the church faces.It is generous of him.  A deeply thoughtful scholar and practitioner, he hardly needs me to remind his class of the spiritual challenges that attend the task of providing leadership for the church.  But I’ve appreciated the invitation and the event has become something of a spiritual exercise for me. … [Read more...]

6 Questions We Need to Answer about Clergy Formation

Some weeks ago, a Facebook friend who is also a young pastor posted this message (which I have quoted here with his permission): So, this is a bit of a vent/rant.  I'm frustrated, discouraged, and worried.  Worried about the future, discouraged about where my ministry career has brought me, and frustrated that I feel like I'm in a prison called The Church with no apparent way out. I've been researching a career change to nursing, which seems infinitely more promising for career options and f … [Read more...]

The One Reason a Global Church Matters

Earlier this week The Guardian declared, “Justin Welby’s plan to split the Anglican Church tells us a lot about religion and politics.”  As English Bishop Nick Baines observed, the headline also told us a lot about the journalistic talent of some of the folks at The Guardian.  Baines tweeted, "Can't they read?" Evidently not. Clearly, the Archbishop of Canterbury is not trying to split the Anglican Communion by calling for a global meeting of the church’s leaders.  What he is trying to do, I s … [Read more...]

12 Questions Leaders Need to Ask Themselves

Religious leaders cannot control what everyone in their circle chooses to do.  That kind of control has never been possible and the challenge is even greater today.The hallmark of contemporary life is the flight from accountability.  Rugged individualism has become petulant self-indulgence, hiding behind the guise of "my rights."  The priesthood of all believers has degenerated into “every person a god,” “each person's private convictions a religion.”But we can shape the ecclesiastical cu … [Read more...]

12 Things Clergy Spouses Want You to Know

I'm an Episcopal priest and my wife is a "parish" priest, which means that her "day job" -- if there were such a thing in a church (not) -- is shaped by the rhythm and demand of caring for the spiritual needs of a congregation.So, I have experience as a clergy person and as the spouse of a clergy person.  The spouses don't often get a chance to tell their own story, but if they could, here are twelve things I think they would want you to know:One: We are thrilled to be here.  This isn't j … [Read more...]

7 Reasons Why the Church Should Learn to Disagree

According to experts great and small, we’ve lost our ability to disagree.  Rather than discuss our differences and stay in conversation with one another, we go on the attack.  We belittle, judge, and demonize one another.  And, when all else fails, we walk away.That’s a loss, not just because we are divided into ever smaller tribes of what we imagine are like-minded groups of people, but because there are important reasons to learn how to disagree.What should be troubling to us as Christ … [Read more...]


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