Ten years ago, my friend Amy Butler was the pastor of the Baptist church down the street from my home. In DC, the Baptist brand has been dinked pretty badly by its association with right wing American politics, so Amy's church adopted a tagline: A Different Kind of Baptist. A decade later, a lot of United Methodists are sensing a need for such a tagline to distance their congregations from an unending food-right over human sexuality as our denominational nightmare unfolds in slow-mo. Then, last week, two and one half pages (not column inches, but full pages) of USA Today were devoted to the total breakdown of the Roman Catholic Church in Guam in protecting pedophile priests, reminding us of the similar sagas that have been unearthed in all corners of America in the Catholic Church. And now, post Charlottesville, we are left with two bastions of support within President Trump's political base, who will not budge even after unending moral failures of the current administration: the two groups being neo-Nazis and evangelical Christian pastors. One of the latter (a not-so-different kind of Baptist?) let us all know last week that it is perfectly and divinely justified to rain down nuclear bombs on North Korea.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
After enjoying a late-night drink and walk across downtown San Antonio with retired United Methodist bishop Will Willimon during the 2017 Festival of Homiletics, I made myself get out of bed to hear him preach the next morning. (I would have otherwise skipped an 8:30 am service or lecture.) The place was packed... with people sitting in the aisles and windowsills; but I found myself a little space on the balcony floor. I couldn't see anything, but I could hear.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Whenever I hear church people put their feet down and say, "There shall never be video screens in their church's sanctuary," I pause, look straight at them and ask why. They nearly always respond that they are traditional. And I say, "OK, good; and what does this have to do with video screens? Does your church have indoor plumbing, because traditionally, churches sent people to outhouses. Church outhouses are very, very traditional, and ecumenical - so far as I can tell, up until about the year 1900, outhouses were as fundamental as Trinitarian theology to Christianity worldwide." People either smile or glare when I say this.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
14 months ago, when The Pilgrim Press released the book Weird Church: Welcome to the 21st Century, Beth Estock and I began to dream about convening a major gathering of spiritual innovators, 21st century evangelists, and out-of-the-box characters! Now, in 2017, we are making that dream a reality!
Friday, March 17, 2017
Plenty of teams around the country are selecting planting-leaders for judicatory-funded new church projects right now. It is easy, when we get close to deadlines for personnel selection, to loosen our standards or candidate criteria. All ministry-related jobs should require extensive vetting, and multiple interviews prior to hire. However, few hires come with greater risks than a church planter. Most clergy lack the skills and/or life experiences that bode well for their attempting to plant a new church.
Thursday, March 9, 2017
The book Weird Church: Welcome to the Twenty-First Century came out one year ago this month. Beth Estock and I (co-authors) have traveled across many time zones from Germany to Hawaii, talking about the promise of rising forms of church that will bless millions of people in this new century. Some of them, such as the Cathedral and the Tabernacle have been around throughout American history. Others, such as Dinner Church, go all the way back to the first century. Weird does not mean uniquely modern - it just means different than the franchise-institutional model of denominational Christianity that most of us grew up in.