A V-Day Proposal


Valentine's Day is the day in Christian culture when people post photos of their "honey" on "date night" or opine about true (Christian married) love on their blogs or share stuff about the REAL St. Valentine or otherwise act kind of obnoxious about having the right kind of romantic relationship and the right kind of faith.It's our own version of the Hallmark holiday that is careful to moralize or educate while "celebrating."But I have a proposal.What if, instead of being so … [Read more...]

Why We Sometimes Need to Say “Cult”


After my post on Monday went a little bit viral, I received quite a bit of feedback along the lines of, "Be careful about using the 'cult' word - that's a big accusation."And I get it. Those outside the church who have interest in dogging the church have been prone to promiscuously throw "cult" at any expression they don't particularly like or understand. If it's a new church that looks or feels different from traditional churches - cult! If people meet in a home instead of a historic church … [Read more...]

What Furtick’s Millions (& the “We Serve a Lead Pastor” Mantra) Might Mean


In the heart of the Bible belt, Steven Furtick's new-school Southern Baptist Elevation Church continues to boom - and make media waves.The latest hits have come in the form of a leaked infographic from the church listing 30 reasons why it's the best place to work, and yet another local news story about Furtick's million dollar home and how that connects to his salary and book sales.To be honest, none of this is surprising in the least, as it smacks of Southern prosperity theology and … [Read more...]

What Moses Might Say to the United Methodist LGBT Advocate


Today after church there was a quick town meeting about the current trials vexing the United Methodist denomination.I was impressed by the demonstration of maturity from members as they shared their views and convictions. There was passion, but it was from a general posture of humility and openness. As Pastor Mark shared his hope for a "third way" beyond conservative and liberal warring in the denomination (and in local churches), there seemed to be glimmers of that very thing among the … [Read more...]

On Quitting Things…& Joining the Patheos Progressive Christian Channel

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At the end of December, I posted my new year's resolution: To quit the Progressive Christian Internet in 2014. The post generated a good deal of conversation, which was surprising since it felt a little more like a personal rant, a brief window into an internal gut-decision that I was making and thought very few people would understand. I posted it at like 1AM. Thought no one would even read it, honestly.But people did read it, and people reacted strongly. I learned from the exchange and … [Read more...]

Three Reasons You’re Not Too Smart for Orthodoxy


In my experiences within both conservative and progressive Christian circles, there seems to be a kind of mutual playing in the politics of fear with regard to the other. On the conservative side, progressives are viewed as morally bankrupt libertine weaklings who lack the backbone to stand up to "the culture." In the words of one famous conservative preacher, this is because they are a bunch of ivory tower elites who are "educated beyond their intelligence."But on the progressive side, the … [Read more...]

Frozen & the Fixer-Upper


I'm a dad to two little girls. Gemma is newly four, and Pippa, newly two. And, as is the trick when one has two children fairly close in age, they have reached a blessed phase in which they enjoy lots of the same things, even if they enjoy them in slightly different ways.This past Christmas was one of those things, with both kiddos fully aware and engaged in the ecstasy of tearing through wrapped toys and watching Santa cartoons and eating cinnamon buns.And the Disney animated movie … [Read more...]

Like Sheep Amidst the Wolves (of Wall Street)


Okay, so if you need some kind of disclaimer about the sex, swearing, and drug use that pervades the DiCaprio/Scorsese masterpiece The Wolf of Wall Street, please consult Focus on the Family's Plugged In Movie Review (if you dare).Suffice it to say, there are not graphic or profane scenes in this film - the film itself is a graphic and profane scene. It is, in this sense, an experience of the excessive, a revelation of the gratuitous. And how could it not be? If we have any illusions about … [Read more...]

The Church is a Her: Why I Love the Ecclesia Effeminate


For a while now, lots of preachers and pundits have been lamenting the feminization of the church. This begins with demographic studies that reflect a greater female participation than male, and continues with a condemnation of the broader "Omega male" culture that is giving men the permission to stay passive - and stay home on Sundays. Some prominent churches and ministries seem entirely predicated on the mission to draw men back into the fold by reinforcing "biblical" male roles and r … [Read more...]

Rooted: (How Not to) Rage Against the Machine


Since I've gone and quit the Progressive Christian Internet already this year, it makes sense that I might blast out another new year exhortation, this time regarding our tendency to rage against the machine in ministry and mission.Specifically, I'd like to touch on the tendency for missional pastors and ministers to become radically anti-institutional in our zeal for reaching a post-Christendom culture. To, in essence, rage against the denominations, organizations, structures, programs, … [Read more...]