Sermon: That’s Me In the Corner

Galatians 1:13-17; 2:15-21 and Luke 18:9-14 Sixth Sunday of Easter Losing My Religion Sermon Series May 21, 2016 First Christian Church Mahtomedi, MN Click here to listen to the audio. It’s been about two years since our congregation voted to become an Open and Affirming congregation, meaning that we openly welcome Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered persons into the life of our church.  I think that’s a good thing, but over the years even long before our vote, I’ve been wondering about the quality of the pro-inclusion argument.  Whenever I’ve seen people argue in favor of LGBT inclusion, the main … Continue reading Sermon: That’s Me In the Corner

Preach the Gospel. Use Words.

The fact of the matter is that we are called to preach the gospel. NOT be the gospel; that’s something onlyJesus can do. NOT live out the gospel, because again, Jesus. We are called to preach the gospel and since we don’t possess the power to speak telepathically to people, we have to say something. Continue reading Preach the Gospel. Use Words.

We Call Ourselves Disciples

My wife Jan and I have been members of First Christian Church of St. Paul for nearly 20 years.  We love the congregational focus.  We particularly embrace the dedication to the principles of wholeness and inclusiveness of the Disciples of Christ, that welcome everyone to the Communion Table with no exceptions.  We have recently rededicated ourselves to mission based activities.  Our work with food banks, homeless shelters, and job programs is very important to us.  If we are making sandwiches for the homeless, staffing a homeless shelter, packing food for the hungry, or just raising money for local support organizations, … Continue reading We Call Ourselves Disciples

Repost: Church Planting and Mainline Church

I wrote this post back in 2006.  A lot has changed since this post was written.  Sadly,  how Progressive Christians view church planting isn’t one of them.   I sometimes wonder if mainline Protestant churches really have a passion for new churches. I won’t go into the nitty gritty of the situation with Community of Grace ,but I get this sense that for many people, a new church is not high on the priority list. Case in point. I was having a conversation a few months ago with a friend of mine. He is also a pastor and recently came … Continue reading Repost: Church Planting and Mainline Church

Mainline Churches Don’t Give a Rip About Church Planting.

As 2012 draws to a close, I’m taking some time to reflect on the new church ministry in the Christian Church in the Upper Midwest and the hopes for 2013 and church planting in within Mainline Protestantism as a whole. Earlier this year, I kind of fell into leading a ministry team of people interested in planting and sustaining new faith communities in my Region.  In some ways, I don’t know how wise it was to have me leading this, since I’m not a great leader, or at least have some traits that make it difficult to provide visionary leadership.  … Continue reading Mainline Churches Don’t Give a Rip About Church Planting.

We Can’t Be Friends

It was about 20 years ago, that I attended a large Baptist church in Washington, DC.   The church was an odd mix, or at least it would be odd today.  Evangelicals and liberals were somehow able to worship together, along side a healthy dose of members from Latin America and Asia. The church decided at some point to hire a pastor to the join the good-sized multi-pastor staff.  The person chosen was a woman with great pastoral care skills.  At the time, there was a bit of controversy because she was pro-gay and some of the evangelicals in the church … Continue reading We Can’t Be Friends

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

Sunday Sermon: December 4, 2011

“That Will Preach.” Isaiah 40:1-11 and Mark 1:1-8 December 4, 2011 First Christian ChurchMinneapolis, MN   It been interesting to walk around the church office these days. It’s kind of become a bit of a museum. As we get ready for the upcoming move to SpringHouse Ministry Center, old newsletters and church bulletins are being taken out of the archives room and getting scanned onto a hard drive. Space is going to a bit tight in our new home, so now is the time to get rid of or economize our stuff. It’s been fascinating to look at the newsletters and bulletins from … Continue reading Sunday Sermon: December 4, 2011

Super Simple Sunday School

I’m starting a new Sunday School class at First Christian that’s called Super Simple Sunday School.  It’s basically morning devotions/morning prayer.  The class goes a bit like this: We read one of that Sunday’s lectionary text. We have a brief discussion of the text. We share prayer concerns. We pray. We leave. That’s it.  The whole point of the class is for folks who might want a bit of quiet time during the week or those who for whatever reason, don’t want to get into the big time Adult Sunday School class.  We aren’t discussing major bits of theology, but … Continue reading Super Simple Sunday School

Lillian Daniel, Adam Copeland and the SBNRs

My last post created a lot of comments on Facebook.  A colleague of mine disagreed with the article and me for the attitude against those who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.”  Actually, I was agreeing to a short article written by UCC pastor Lillian Daniel and her comments have received a bit of criticism themselves.  Here’s what Presbyterian pastor Adam Copeland had to say:

  1. Really? An airplane? Would that be first-class or coach? I meet with
    people (young adults, mostly) every week who call themselves “spiritual
    but not religious.” They tend to be underemployed, live month-to-month,
    and are doing their best to find meaning in their tumultuous lives.
    Sure, the phrase “spiritual but not religious” needs some unpacking for
    pastors whose livelihoods depend on people’s public religiosity, but
    I’ve never heard it as “rebellion against the religious status quo.”
    Rather, the phrase is more a humble testimony that they just don’t seem
    to connect with fancy churches. And who can blame them?
  2. As opposed to what Daniel suggests, the “spiritual but not religious” folks I talk to yearn for community.
    I have not found one who wants simply to have “deep thoughts all by
    oneself” as Daniel accuses. What might be true, however, is that the
    community they seek isn’t offered at most mainline churches with our
    endowment funds and dress codes and judgmental matriarchs and
    patriarchs. You see, some “spiritual but not religious” folks sense a
    certain righteous attitude from these institutions (go figure?). Many
    were once burned by hugely negative experiences with the church and
    it’ll take the church reaching out — in love, not in snark — for healing
    to begin.
  3. God is working in the lives of the “spiritual but not religious.” I
    happen to believe they have a huge amount to teach the church about
    connecting to God, supporting true community, sustaining spiritual
    practices, and living out St. Augustine’s call for a “faith seeking
    understanding.” Daniel asks, “Can I spend my time talking to someone
    brave enough to encounter God in a real human community?” I say, Yes,
    feel free to do that in your church. But also be brave enough to listen
    to those encountering God in ways you don’t fully understand. Learn from
    them.

Copeland does have some points to make, but I can’t help but agree more with Daniel’s original snarky response, than with Copeland’s defense of the SBNRs.  Maybe part of it comes from being in ministry a bit longer than Copeland.  Just a few weeks from my 42nd birthday, I’m not the angry young man I used to be.  Things that I thought were just the bees knees are now seen as sheer foolishness.  I’m not whining as much about how unfair the world is and more willing to say that we need to develop a spiritual toughness against the harshness of life.  The people inside the church are not as stupid and backward as we thought they were.  The folks outside the church are not the fonts of wisdom we once thought they were.
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