No Cause for Celebration: Question Two of Ten

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   Taking The Dave Test during the Holidays  Question Two: “Can I give up my broken gods?”  Introduction to the seriesMuch of the last year was thread through with considerable loss.  My brother, Dave, battled a fatal brain cancer for nearly eight years and he died this last January as the result of a fall that was due in large part to his disease.  He would have been 58 years old in October.In reaction to Dave’s quest to find a durable faith and support … [Read more...]

A Vulnerable Church: Passing The Dave Test

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Much of the last year was thread through with considerable loss.  My brother, Dave, battled a fatal brain cancer for nearly eight years and he died this last January as the result of a fall that was due in large part to his disease.  He would have been 58 years old this month.In reaction to Dave’s quest to find a durable faith and supportive friends, I wrote a book called The Dave Test, which was just released by Abingdon Press.  The book distills Dave’s quest into ten questions that any of u … [Read more...]

Your Church has an Angel

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It’s time to begin thinking in new ways about church.Clergy often focus on the numbers and problems: the size of the budget, the number of people who pledge, average Sunday attendance, and a long list of other numbers.  Beyond that, all too often the conversation among clergy turns to questions about the problems to be solved and the hurdles to be cleared.Lay people, on the other hand, often focus on the question, “What does this church have to offer?”  “How is the preaching, the music, and t … [Read more...]

Cream of Wheat in a Pop Tart Culture

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My wife worked for a major advertising firm in Chicago and one of their clients was Cream of Wheat.  In the face of a culture that was increasingly given to things that were sticky, sweet, and easily prepared --- like Pop Tarts --- the folks at Cream of Wheat struggled to market their product.In working with the firm it became clear that one of the challenges they faced was that they were trying to sell Cream of Wheat --- instead of selling its experience or its benefits.  What finally worked f … [Read more...]

Family Values? Not so much.

Motherhood

The September issue of the Harvard Business Review offers statistical confirmation of something that mothers have known for a long time.  Having children does them no good in the work world.According to Amanda K. Baumle at the University of Houston, who analyzed the 2000 Census “Having children tends to result in higher wages for men, whether they’re straight or gay, married or partnered…Most mothers make less than childless women.” And “Only lesbians get a salary bump from having kids.”  What … [Read more...]

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should

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Over the years relatives have shared church bulletins with us, thinking that we might find what the churches are doing of interest.  That’s understandable, considerate, and sometimes we do find them interesting.  There are other times when they are just crazy-making.For example, my wife’s parents sent us a bulletin from their church in Exeter, New Hampshire announcing a new fall film festival.  The subject matter?“Fresh”….according to the bulletin “Fresh” celebrates the farmers, thinkers and … [Read more...]

Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and here is

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Not so many people.  Why?  In part, apparently, because we are doing an increasingly poor job of explaining to the people who come through the doors what it is that we believe, why it makes a difference, and how it differs from what others believe. A recent Pew Research Center report concluded: Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions … [Read more...]

Healing church, hurtful church

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We had dinner with friends last night and we began talking about the emerging church phenomenon — the latest effort to re-boot the church by breaking ties with the long-established denominational structures that have dominated recent Christian history. In passing, one of our friends observed, “Well, I haven’t been hurt by the church, so I find it much harder to turn my back on the day to day reality that we identify as church.” I was really jarred by the observation (though I didn’t say so) … [Read more...]


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