Portrait of a Pastor

I received a gift this morning.  A gift so full of love and hope that I am still nearly breathless. Several years ago, Vicki Attaway made her way to the church I serve, having heard that there was a female pastor there and that she might find it welcoming and comfortable.  Within a short period of time, I discovered that Vicki, as am I, is a graduate of Rice University. An immediate and unbreakable bond formed. There are few of us and even fewer women of our generation who can say that. In time, Vicki’s love for God and willingness … Continue reading Portrait of a Pastor

A Modern Take on Luke 15–Probably Heretical, Possibly Shedding Fresh Light on a Shocking Story

The Complaint A group of VERY IMPORTANT church leaders began to grumble about Jesus.  “He ignores us, the movers and shakers, the ones divinely given the leadership of The Church. Instead, he takes his meals with people who don’t even give $5 a year to our coffers, haven’t partaken of the sacraments in years AND even support gay marriage and homosexuals as ordained! The church will decline in numbers even further if they get their way.  Why isn’t he dining with us in the hotel conference room so we can form a new strategy on how to build growing, vital, … Continue reading A Modern Take on Luke 15–Probably Heretical, Possibly Shedding Fresh Light on a Shocking Story

The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part Three

Note: this is part three of a three part series. Part One is here; Part Two is here. Three Things to Keep in Mind First: not all growth is good growth.  When effectiveness is measured only by numerical growth, we make the fatal mistake of assuming that just because something grows rapidly, it is doing so under the blessing of God.  All gardeners and physicians know this:  rapid growth doesn’t necessarily mean good, healthy or desired growth. Second:  the process of making disciples is a long, slow, and often painful one.  A disciple is one who is actually willing to … Continue reading The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part Three

The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part Two

Note: this is the second of a three-part series.  Part one is here; part three is here. The Church is In Crisis I suspect everyone agrees that The United Methodist Church, as a world-wide organization, is in crisis.  Our membership grows older and the death tsunami looms. Few churches see a vital future. People in the US church, who have been the principle financial support of the worldwide church, are moving away from denominational religious structures. The crisis leads to pressure to have numbers that look good. We’re no different in that sense from any business that must please its … Continue reading The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part Two

The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part One

I recently walked out of a local electronics store in some frustration.  I have an older inkjet printer that needed new ink cartridges.  Now, ink cartridges are some of the biggest consumer rip-offs ever devised, so I wasn’t in a great mood when I walked in.  My irritation grew when I realized that my aged printer does not have its exact model number indicated on any of the multitudes of printer cartridges available. Two different sales staff tried to help; each came up with a different solutions.  Both admitted that if I bought a cartridge, put it in the printer … Continue reading The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part One

Judicial Council Decisions: The Emperor Has No Clothes

The United Methodist Church cannot be re-formed. It’s over for us with our current structure. The Judicial Council’s decision to revoke the involuntary retirement of Bishop Earl Bledsoe over issues of violation of procedural minutia found in the Book of Discipline (not over the question of his effectiveness, which was not being ruled upon) has forever made this clear. It is over. It’s easy to get frustrated with the Judicial Council for the rulings of the last few months. Their work has thoroughly reversed decisions made by General and Jurisdictional Conferences. However, I think that would be a mistake. They’ve done the … Continue reading Judicial Council Decisions: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Dead Soil Produces Dead Souls: Thoughts on the Toxic Church

I hear the word “toxic” bandied about all the time, both applied to people and to churches.  The word means poisonous, of course.  Poison is “a substance with an inherent property that tends to destroy life or impair health” (from dictionary.com).  So if we are in a “toxic” relationship or toxic church, we are in a situation that promotes the opposite of what most of us want to experience, which is life and health. Not too long ago, this question popped up in an online discussion board primarily for United Methodist clergy: “Why do so many conferences allow problem churches … Continue reading Dead Soil Produces Dead Souls: Thoughts on the Toxic Church

Academia, Metrics and the Church

Recently, I posted a response on the Missional Methodist blog about what I see happening right now in The United Methodist Church. I mentioned that I see huge parallels with what is happening in the academic world and what is happening with the church. Academia is being told: the purpose of education is economic–getting good paying jobs for the graduates. The real purpose of a good liberal education–to teach people to think widely and deeply over multiple disciplines so they might serve as ethical and well-grounded leaders in multiple areas–is being replaced by this purely functional model. So, the real … Continue reading Academia, Metrics and the Church