Two Statistics Demand Response

Statistics often create as much fog and distortion as clarity and accuracy. But sometimes salient stats leap off the page.

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Decline and Dysfunction in the American Church

Decline and Dysfunction in the American Church, addresses the unprecedented and devastating decrease in membership, financial resources, respect and ministry suffered by congregations and judicatories throughout the nation and offers an explanation that has not yet been considered.

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Lose the Treasurer’s Report

We should train people to be good stewards. Train them in the Biblical tithe, for example. Train them to give without expecting to control spending. Train them to give to God, in gratitude for God’s blessings, not to the budget.

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Let the People Sing

The sound track of faith always matters, but never more so than during the period between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. This month expresses through music much of what we hold to be true.

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Stewardship Season: Time to Escape Three Traps

It’s that time of year. Caution and survival-thinking square off with boldness and progress-thinking.

The time, of course, is money time. Stewardship campaigns are in full swing. At the very time when Bible readings, sermons and liturgies compel us to anticipate God’s new things and God’s dramatic entry into human history, we tally up the pledges and double-down on old things and “realistic assessments” of what is possible.

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7 Steps in Being Custodian of a Narrative

There is, however, one more custodial duty that church leaders must take seriously – more seriously, in my opinion, than many do. That is custodianship of the congregation’s narrative. By narrative I mean the story by which the congregation is known, the values intrinsic to that story, and ways this story either attracts or repels other people.

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Drawing the Right Conclusion from Pew Report

Earlier this week, the Pew Research Center issued its 2014 study of the religious landscape. Headlines blared: “Americans reject religion.” Hand-wringing ensued.

The report itself was far more nuanced than that. It said Americans are turning away from religious practices grounded in family heritage or group affiliation. But overall, especially as they pursue faith as individuals, people are more spiritually active than ever. They pray, read Scripture, participate in small faith communities, and look for ways to serve.

What “smells,” as it were, is a steep drop in those who describe themselves as “religiously affiliated,” to 77% in 2014 from 83% in 2007. Also down is belief in God with “absolute certainty.”

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Getting beyond “Nones” and “Dones”

The labels “Nones” and “Dones” miss the point. People who aren’t in churches on Sunday aren’t saying No to God, No to Faith, or even No to Church.

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Being Church for the Millennials

Asking the question about how to be “church” to the Millennials, however, presents somewhat of a conundrum. How is one “church” to those who are not religious? After twenty years of working with and ministering to the needs of this audience, I believe there is a solution. I have learned that in order to support the spiritual needs of the Millennials, benefit from their inherent gifts, and prevent the ultimate demise of the Church’s mission, we need to think outside the box of traditional religiosity. Instead of expecting them to seek us out, we are invited to meet them where they are at.

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5 Lessons on Promoting Healthy Churches

Any human enterprise can succeed or fail. Silicon Valley startups, marriages, mall stores, schools, and churches — there are no guarantees, no reliable formulas, no ideal preparation.

The recipe for failure tends to be predictable. Conditions change, but for reasons ranging from sloth to distraction to inadequate resources, leaders don’t change with them. Early success teaches the wrong lessons. Leaders dread failure more than they want to learn from it. Worthy ideas implode from lack of support, while bad ideas develop loyal followings.

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The View from Job’s Dung-heap: Peering Beyond the Heavens Toward a Theory of Everything?

Ruminating over this Sunday’s prescribed reading from Job 38, my mind harkens back to 2012, when I had the privilege of attending a series of lectures given by the great Phyllis Tickle who described the current reformation that the church is experiencing as part of a cultural phenomenon that happens about every 500 years, which she calls “The Great Emergence”. When asked what skills religious leaders will need to navigate the information age, Tickle insisted that the best advice we could give to anyone considering a religious vocation was that they should study physics.

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Children of the Earth: Pioneering Spiritual Activism

Teen and Young Adult Curriculum

Spiritual Activism is a concept originating from the understanding that youths’ incredible energy can be guided into living a life based on the “will to good” and positive social change. This begins by seeking inner peace and a connection to our consciousness. You can and you will activate your own calling for a life of meaning reflected in daily actions and service for the greater good.

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Jose Mujica’s interview – URUGUAY – #HUMAN

José Mujica, nicknamed Pepe Mujica, was President of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015. A former Tupamaros freedom fighter in the 60s and the 70s, he was detained, like a hostage by the dictatorship between 1973 and 1985. He advocates a philosophy of life focused on sobriety: learn to live with what is necessary and fairest.

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7 Ways to Build Community

If not Sunday worship, then what?

As Sunday morning loses its hold on churchgoers and potential churchgoers, what comes next? How do faith communities nurture relationships? How do people draw closer to God? How can we engage the world outside our doors if opening the doors on Sunday isn’t enough?

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Other ministries, Other Places, Other Expressions

How can I consider myself a member of this congregation if I don’t participate in the main thing they do?

It’s a good question, and many Christians are asking it. As Diana Butler Bass points out in an insightful interview with Deseret News, more and more believers are pursuing their relationships with God “away from church.”

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Why Are Leaders Assholes?

… when you have power over other people, at some point, you exercise that power. You have to. That’s why you were in the leadership position to begin with. You had to send someone on an errand they didn’t want to do. Or you had to force someone to do something. … The exercise of power over people feels good – like a drug. And, the abuse of power leads to doing it again and again.

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Adam Smith’s “Hidden Hand” Veneration of Another False God ?

In Pope Francis’ recent environmental encyclical and in his many pronouncements since them, most notably his address to the US Congress and at the United Nations, he was in effect telling the world that the time has come for all of us to take a long hard look at a false god that has, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution been and continues to be venerated by so many.
 

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An Open Letter To the Moderator of the United Church of Canada: The Rt. Rev. Jordan Cantwell

I write with some alarm at what is happening in the United Church of Canada, a church that I have long admired. … I have written articles in praise of the United Church of Canada. It was the one Christian body in the world that seemed free of the need to be tied to the past, but was rather courageously open to the future.

Now to my dismay, a segment of the United Church of Canada has decided that it is no longer secure enough or open enough to contain one of its most creative, future-oriented pastors. I refer to the Rev. Gretta Vosper of the West Hill United Church in Toronto.

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