Six critical steps for giving and spending

As church leaders conclude annual stewardship campaigns and turn their attention to operating budgets, it’s important to examine how a healthy church handles money.

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Beyond business as usual

Sometimes reality changes. Events cascade into our plans and desires, forcing us to rethink, recalibrate, reconsider. What seemed okay and important yesterday now appears irrelevant or not so urgent.

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Christmas Poetry

Christmas Poetry: Churches are welcome to use these poems with attribution.

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Christmas poem, “Immanuel: God Within and Among Us”

The Christmas poem, “Immanuel: God Within and Among Us” was written for the Centennial Christmas Cantata to celebrate the centennial of First Congregational Church of Long Beach’s historic building. Below is a the video of the performance.

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Keep Watch: John the Baptist, Like Christ Has Many Disguises!

… keep awake–Christ may come suddenly and find you asleep. So be prepared. Keep awake! Watch for we know not when Christ comes. Watch, so that you might be found whenever and wherever Christ comes. Prepare the way for Christ.

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Churches have important work to do

Progressive churches have important work to do in the four years ahead.

They don’t need to become aligned with the Democratic Party. But they do need to become political. By that I mean tending to the politics of the day, namely, change, frustration, anger, some truly awful people planning to do bad things to their enemies, and a lot of good people on all sides wondering what direction American democracy is going.

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Gifts of the Season

What if we spent a good part of one day filling our chest cavity with a vision of love at every deep breath? What if the 25th was spent sending light and love outward to unsuspecting people. People we lived with daily. They might not guess we were doing it. Or people we thought about that day. What if we consciously directed what we know of God toward them? What if we did nothing more than nurture our sacred flame in the remembrance of a single soul lit in Bethlehem so long ago? Would Christmas be big enough to hold such a thing, or would it spill out into 12 days, or ordinary days, or 365 days?

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Something Old, Something New: How a Non-Theist Celebrates “The Holidays”

Part I of 2-Part Article

he Thanksgiving holiday in America is a national observance that has been traditionally framed in a religious context. Whether you like roast turkey or not, one is expected to be thankful for it, and express one’s gratitude to the “Giver” of all good gifts.

For those of us who have enough, or more than enough, it’s all sufficiently palatable; if not theologically problematic to sing the old standard hymn in the face of arms-length hunger and poverty.

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8 ways to use technology to grow your church

ny church can grow. It won’t happen just by opening the doors on Sunday and welcoming whoever shows up. Growth isn’t that easy or passive. But growth can happen if leaders are willing to work at it, to use best practices and best tools, and to change whatever gets in their way.

That’s a tall order, of course, because most established institutions struggle with change and resist doing more than the known and the minimum.

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Many folks are ready to move on

The signal revelation from a recent consulting engagement in Kansas wasn’t that the congregation was trapped in old ways, or paying a steep price for it in declining membership. The revelation was that hardly anyone had any stake in remaining stuck.

In one way or another, they said, “Let’s move on.” “We need to get outside ourselves.” “We have got to change things.”

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Embrace Festival May 2016

First in-city music, art, sacred community and social transformation festival with a progressive Christian framework. Leaders from around the world join us to co-create a deeper vision for the future and share practical tools to heal ourselves, our communities, and the planet in on-going ways moving forward. We hope to see you there!

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Stations of the Cosmic Christ

Experience a new contemplative practice!

The below probably speaks for itself but in a nut shell it is about churches, chapels and retreat centers joining the movement to move from an overly human-centered religious consciousness (what Pope Francis calls our “narcissism” as a species) to a cosmically-aware consciousness. It is about uniting anew the psyche and the cosmos that was torn asunder in the modern era with the divorce of religion from science but today can and must be healed. With a practice like this we can move from centuries of battles over Jesus and Christ dogmas to the “third nature of Christ,” the Cosmic Christ (which in fact is present in our earliest Christian sources including Paul and the Gospel of Thomas). Such an understanding paves the way for an Eco-Christ and an eco-theology but based on a spiritual practice, not just speculative theologizing.

Thank you for your attention,

Matthew Fox

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I wish I had known these principles in aging ministry

Now that I am venturing onto the terrain called “aging,” I would like a do-over in how I responded to people over 65 when I was their pastor.

I don’t think I began to comprehend the complexity of aging. I viewed it as a single-track pastoral problem to be solved by regular home visits and the occasional group event, like a bus tour. I tended to treat the elderly as needy, more like patients in a hospital than self-differentiating adults. Some were hospital patients, of course. But I missed seeing the rest of their journeys.

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Coming Home to Our Better Selves

Coming home to community, we come home to our better selves.Coming together as community, we can live as our better selves.

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The tension between “bricks and mortar” and “mission and ministry”

The tension between “bricks and mortar” and “mission and ministry” is never easy to navigate. Facilities seem so real and practical, while mission and ministry tend to be ambiguous and unmeasurable.

The tension gets especially complicated when facilities are enshrined as “historic.” Some constituents derive personal status from things historic, whether or not it is deserved, and the old implies a certain continuity that many desire.

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CalledOUT Response on Judicial Council Rulings

  In a week where United Methodist LGBTQI persons have been tokenized through the announcement of the Council of Bishops’ Special Commission on “A Way Forward,” we are not surprised, but are nonetheless harmed once again by …

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Here We Stand, For We Can Do No Other – A Sermon for Reformation Sunday

The radical nature of Jesus’ teachings which opened people up to a whole new understanding of who and what God is and empowers people to live in relationship to God in ways that enable them to live into the power of love; these teachings remained at the core of Christianity, but the Church’s need for power all too often corrupted the teachings in ways that were designed to keep the members of the church in line so that the powers that be could maintain their power. The excesses of the church became so intolerable that over the centuries many of the church’s own brightest and best challenged the powers that be by reminding the church of the teachings of Jesus and calling the church back to those teachings; none more so than, Martin Luther whose actions we celebrate by calling to mind the Reformation. 499 years ago, Luther nailed his 95 Theses, to the doors of the church at Wittenberg, which pointed out the horrendous abuses of the church and prescribed measures designed to heal the church and bring it back into right relationship with God so that the members of the church could once again become justice-seekers and peace makers and live into the Love that is the source of our being.

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Stewardship is a spiritual discipline, not fund-raising

If you were to plan a Spiritual Development ministry for your church, you might start with prayer: the simple but far-reaching act of talking to God.

Your second element might be meditation: the not-quite-so-simple act of listening to God.

On you would go with study, worship, confession – each harder the one before.

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