- How to keep Millennials in the church? Let’s keep church un-cool: I’m a Millennial, but I am weary of everyone caring so much about why Millennials do this or don’t do that. I’m sorry Millennials, but I’m going to have to throw us under the bus here: we do not have everything figured out. And if we expect older generations and well-established institutions to morph to fit our every fickle desire, we do so at our peril.
- Pope Francis is right: It’s time for a theology of women: The role of women doesn’t end just with being a mother and with housework …we don’t yet have a truly deep theology of women in the church. We talk about whether they can do this or that, can they be altar boys, can they be lectors, about a woman as president of Caritas, but we don’t have a deep theology of women in the Church.
- Does Anglicanism have a future? The parish is the ecclesial form that has tied the church to place. Yet it seems that form of the church may not have the resources to respond to an increasingly mobile population that is no longer tied to place.
- Why Fewer Churches Offer Vacation Bible School: The biggest change: busyness. “In 2001, only 5% of churches who did not offer VBS stated their reason as not having enough time, or wanting to devote such time to more pressing needs,” writes Barna. “In 2005, this number of time-pressed churches more than doubled (13%), and nearly quadrupled just last summer (19%).”
Some topics intimidate preachers. And that’s actually a good thing. When preachers realize they’re handling a difficult issue, they know to be careful, aware of the hazards on every side. The problem comes when someone launches confidently into a sermon without realizing the complexities of their topic. That’s like boldly flying your spaceship into an asteroid field, blissfully unaware that your odds of survival are only 3,720 to 1.
In the last few weeks, I’ve heard several people do this with sermons on poverty. It’s as though we think poverty is a relatively simple topic, something that you can handle in a single, 30-minute sermon. Just offer some thoughts on the importance of hard work, make sure you point out that we’re supposed to be nice to poor people, and you’re good to go. After a clever introduction, several amusing anecdotes, and some interesting asides, you should be able to handle the issue of poverty in the twenty minutes you have left.
At that point, you’re not just flying through an asteroid field, but you’re doing it at the fastest possible speed. Don’t be surprised when you get crushed into oblivion.
Here are four reasons that preachers should include poverty on their list of topics to handle with extreme caution. I’m not suggesting that we avoid the topic, quite the opposite. I think we should preach on poverty regularly. After all, God has a lot to say about the subject. But it’s far from a simple topic.
I spent most of July packing, driving, and getting set up in our new home and my new office. So things were a little quiet around here. But here were the most popular posts of the month anyway. Enjoy!
According to some recent studies, richer people are more likely to behave unethically and rudely than poorer people. Indeed, some of the studies suggest that arbitrarily assigning some privilege to a person causes him or her to begin acting as though they deserve to be treated better.
Check out this short video from NPR summarizing the results of the studies. As the video notes, the studies have come under some criticism, with a few arguing that they simply reflect the liberal bias of the researchers. But the results of the studies are still quite interesting, suggesting that wealth produces a certain pattern:
- receiving privilege
- leads to expecting privilege
- culminating in taking privilege
- How Google Glass Will Transform Your Spiritual Life: what happens when we offload our moral and spiritual progress to a device? Certainly, in the case of daily Bible reading alerts, it seems quite helpful, but is there a point at which we lose something essential to our formation into the image of the Son of God?
- Why millennials are leaving the church: What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.
- Five Fundamental Questions Conservative Evangelicals Must Address: We’ve been told often in recent years that conservative evangelicals must adapt to changing social conditions or find themselves consigned to irrelevance. On matters of both style and substance, many evangelicals have been motivated by an anxiety that they simply aren’t keeping up.
- Confessions of a Misguided Worship Leader: Little by little, God was shaping me through my own suffering and through the suffering of the people I was growing to love. Musical equipping was necessary, and theological formation was as well, but now I see how these tools are given to building up the people of God.
We used to have a birdhouse. Every spring, little birds would fly in and make their home, building their nest, laying their eggs, and doing whatever it is that little birds do. One day a strong wind came along and rocked that little birdhouse, flipping it over so that it now hangs upside down.
The little birds don’t care. To them it’s still a birdhouse. It has a top and a bottom, it holds their nest, and protects them from the elements. What might have looked like a tragedy, is just a bit of redecoration.
It’s all about perspective.
The bigger birds like it as well. Now that the house has flipped over, the overhang of what used to be the roof provides a perfect place to perch so they can stick their heads through the little doorway and eat the smaller birds inside.
To them, it’s a bird feeder.
It’s all about perspective.
Here’s a helpful and creative chart that explains the distinction between atheism, agnosticism, and theism. I found the “agnostic theist” category particularly interesting. I run into this one a lot, but didn’t have a category for it until now.
- In the Beginning Was the Word; Now the Word Is on an App: For millions of readers around the world, a wildly successful free Bible app, YouVersion, is changing how, where and when they read the Bible.
- The Rise of the Christian Left in America: The religious right has been in decline for years. Can progressives build a new “moral majority”? (For another take on the same topic, check out Are Religious Progressives the Wave of the Future?)
- Eight Kinds of People Who Should Not Serve on a Church Board: Not everyone is qualified to serve on a church board and choosing the wrong people condemns the board to dishealth and frustration for years to come. It is easy to put someone on a board and hard to remove them.
- Gardens, Not Buildings: great projects, like great careers and relationships that last, are gardens. They are tended, they shift, they grow. They endure over time, gaining a personality and reflecting their environment. When something dies or fades away, we prune, replant and grow again.
Although John Wesley is well known to many Christians, his mother Susanna Wesley has received less attention. That is unfortunate given that many think that her influence on her sons John and Charles made an indelible mark on their ministries and the subsequent history of the religious tradition they founded.
Susanna Wesley died on July 23, 1742. In honor of her amazing life and ministry, this morning’s prayer comes from her.
Help me, Lord, to remember that religion
…..is not to be confined to the church, or closet,
nor exercised only in prayer and meditation,
but that everywhere I am in thy presence.
So may my every word and action have a moral content.
May all the happenings of my life prove useful to me.
May all things instruct me and afford me an opportunity
…..of exercising some virtue
…..and daily learning and growing toward thy likeness.