Yet Another Post on Church Planting

It’s been a bittersweet time for me. On the one hand, I am excited of being pastor at First Christian.  There are a lot of challenges; the church is down a faithful few and we are starting to find ways to grow numerically and spiritually as well.  Most churches that are down to a handful would just close and that was suggested to the folks at First.  But they decided to stick together and keep on keeping on.  I am amazed at their faith and feel honored to journey with them as First-St. Paul becomes something new and yet the … Continue reading Yet Another Post on Church Planting

Discipleship or Consumerism?

A few days ago, I was at a church retreat.  In response to a question on what challenges the church is facing, a woman remarked that one challenge is how people don’t really want to get involved in church.  They don’t see it as a life, as much as a place where they can get their needs met and be on their way. I was glad to see someone in the pews notice this.  It’s been a growing frustration of mine over the years.  Pastors are pushed in many ways to try to make their churches appealing to folk, especially … Continue reading Discipleship or Consumerism?

There’s Still Hope for the Mainline

Anyone who’s read this blog knows I tend to be critical of mainline Christianity.  It’s not that I want to leave what has been my theological home for two decades; it’s that I get frustrated at some of it’s shortcomings. Despite all of that, mainline/progressive/liberal Christianity is my home.  As much as I respect my evangelical beginnings, I don’t belong there anymore.  My current home might be a fixer-upper, but it’s still home. So, I get a bit sad when I hear stories about how Mainline Protestantism is shrinking.  People leave the church.  Congregations close.  Denominational offices keep cutting staff. … Continue reading There’s Still Hope for the Mainline

Birth Control And The Sham of Theological Diversity

One of the things that Progressive Christians like to say about themselves is how welcoming and tolerant they are.  Compared to their more conservative cousins, progressives can pride themselves in being able to think for themselves and to have a place where all ideas and beliefs can be shared without fear. Why, your progressive church even welcomes Republicans! But in reality, all of this talk of diversity is a complete shame.  We are no more tolerant of other viewpoints than our conservative relatives.  What we are good at is lying to ourselves about how good we are. Case in point … Continue reading Birth Control And The Sham of Theological Diversity

Shower the People

The pastor of a Disciples of Christ congregation in Colorado shows another way to help a church turnaround from decline: simply love the people: When I came to Mountair I had a close friend tell me to do nothing but love people for a year.  I didn’t like that advice much.  I saw so many things that needed to change!  I don’t like the status quo.  But by the grace of God (and my respect for my friend) I heeded his advice (mostly).  I spent a year listening to stories, making hospital visits, doing my best in preaching and Bible … Continue reading Shower the People

Constitutional Amendments and the Church

This fall, Minnesotans will go to the polls to vote on two constitutional amendments.  The first one would ban same-sex marriage and the second one would require photo ids before a person could vote. Now I have my own opinions on the amendments and I’m not shy about sharing them (I’m strongly against the first and somewhat in favor of the second).  However, when it comes to the context of church and in my role as a pastor, I am less comfortable in telling people how they should feel on this issue, let alone how they should pray. Recently, during … Continue reading Constitutional Amendments and the Church

Repost: Why Church Planting Matters

Jim, left and my partner, Daniel, right. From August 2010. As First Christian plans its future, a constant among the plans is to leave some money aside for to plant new churches. Both the Senior Pastor and I have made this a priority in what ever decisions are made. That has been met with some resistance. One person wondered why we weren’t spending some of the money on mission. Others have thought the same thing. (It’s funny that people all of the sudden care about mission when it comes to using money for church planting.) I’m always a bit angry … Continue reading Repost: Why Church Planting Matters

Where’s Jesus?

This past Saturday was the day that the members of First decorate the place. The hallways are decked out in wreaths and garlands, Christmas trees are found in the lounge and in the sanctuary. This year’s decorations will be memorable because this is the last Christmas at our current location. In a few weeks, we will take buses and start worshipping at SpringHouse. One of the things that are always interesting are the manger scenes. Like most folks, people tend to decorate the mangers with all the central characters; the wise men (even though they weren’t at the manger), the … Continue reading Where’s Jesus?