Earlier this month I filmed a commercial for a course I am teaching in the Spring semester at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC. It is truly a new world when academic courses come with video commercials to help students decide what to take in a given semester.
Thursday, December 6, 2018
Earlier this month I was a part of what United Methodists call a Paragraph 213 Meeting - a meeting looking at the viability of current congregational ministry versus the possibilities of their community. In this case it was a P213 on Steroids - as we were looking at 10 churches simultaneously across a small urban region. Among the things that became clear:
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
As I tinker with the last edits of my new book MULTI (coming to you this winter), I am beyond the major writing - more into the stage of ruminating. Why did I really write the book - what are the implications? MULTI is about how diverse groups of people forge partnership as church. It is about how we are able to step beyond tribal perspectives and allegiances into God's greater possibilities of community, healing and human thriving.
Thursday, October 4, 2018
Years ago, a couple in my church retired and embarked on a trip of a lifetime. They cruised around the world. They came back with great stories - but the one I most remember is the night that they met a Category 1 typhoon in the Indian Ocean. Apparently it popped up suddenly, and the captain decided it would be best to just plow through. Everyone on board received Dramamine, delivered to their state rooms before bedtime. All ship activity was curtailed for an evening and they put folks to bed. By morning the sun was out and they had passed though the storm.
Thursday, September 6, 2018
In this age of rising real estate costs and aging church facilities, questions about and concern for buildings often gets in the way of ministry. I am not an anti-building person - I just know that too often these days, the building becomes the tail that wags the dog. Add in the likelihood that the average American adult Christian these days will have lower income and higher debt load than their parents. It all means that churches must do a serious rethink about our relationship to physical facilities.
Thursday, July 26, 2018
In these dog days of twenty-first century summer, only about one in ten churches are growing in the United States. But as a coach, more of my churches are growing than not - so we still are in the plateau-busting business! As a matter of definition - a plateau is when a growing church hits an invisible ceiling to its growth. I was once in leadership at a church where we were stuck for 3 years at 1400 in worship attendance. That church started two more campuses and grew by another 1000. Here are the top ten reasons for plateau, as I see them these days:
Thursday, June 28, 2018
Quite a few of my clients serve heartland churches where there is a good mix of Trump supporters and those who loathe the man. There are very few who feel ambivalence about the President. The pastors of these churches try very hard to avoid alienating their Trump people - especially those people who follow his Twitter feed much more carefully than they follow the news. With one issue after another, these pastors have found themselves biting their tongues.
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
I have been hanging around at church for 55 years. I was born a preacher's kid, and I have visited far in excess of 1000 churches across the years. So I think I have a little perspective. I am able to say with some accuracy: theology is no predictor of meanness (or kindness) in a congregation. The spirit of meanness seems to be an equal opportunity visitor - afflicting some of the most conservative and some of the most liberal congregations in America. It comes out in different ways - sometimes in rude interactions, and just as often in passive ways. Christian congregations can be some of the meanest places on earth - and some of the most grace-filled. And often, we are talking about the same church!
My dad served a church in the 1950s where the people got into a fight at a church meeting and threw chairs at one another in the fellowship hall. A kid had to go call the police. I heard this story growing up, and assumed that this was just a quirk related to a rough and tumble church of poor white folks in Fort Worth. But, the years have revealed that with education and a little money, the only difference is that we stop throwing chairs. Nothing else changes.
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
A couple weeks ago, while working in Oklahoma, my wallet disappeared - apparently stolen, but who knows? This required some very unconventional procedures working through TSA until I could get my new drivers license. Normally, I use my passport to fly, but the passport was tied up at the Chinese Embassy in a file requesting a Visa. Perfect storm.
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Never in the history of Christianity has a significant revival or church turn-around occurred without young adults. (Unless one of you church historians can correct me!) Jesus was 33 when he left this world. And most of those who traveled in his company were between 15 and 35 years of age. Granted, people did not live as long in those days. And with longevity comes certain gifts of maturity that may have been rarer then. The mellowing of Protestant Christianity on so many issues in the last century is a convergence of more old-people-wisdom along with the revolutionary sensibilities of younger folks in the culture.
Monday, February 19, 2018
Seldom a week goes by without someone asking me, "What's new with you?" Or "What are you working on these days?" The answer for Epicenter Group is four-fold. There are four areas of adaptive challenge for the 21st century church where we are spending a lot of focus in 2018.