The latest “I once was ‘found’, then I headed for the exit door” tale making the rounds among the Christian internet world is that of George Perdikis, one of the founder of Christian pop band, the Newsboys. Whether it’s stories like that of Bob DylanFrankSchaefferKaty Perry, or countless others over the last 2,000 years who have elected to walk away from orthodox Christianity, we who stay may have one or both of these responses:

(1) We may chalk it up either apostasy or a belief that the leaver was never truly saved in the first place. The chalk you use will depend in large part whether you’re in the “once saved, always saved” camp or the “only the elect will be saved” camp. This unending debate about whether it is possible to “de-convert” rages on in some Christian college dorms at 2 a.m. For the purposes of this post, let’s just leave it at “Salvation belongs to God”. In any case, those who were once a part of us aren’t with us any longer. We try to find holes in their conversion stories to demonstrate the way in which incomplete, immature, or improper* belief led these Reborn Renees to walk away.

(2) We sorrow. When we look around us at the church, we see problems everywhere we turn. Sometimes, it makes it very hard to see Jesus in the midst of it all. When we read not only the stories of Walk Away Renees, but of those who’ve been deeply wounded but are still hanging on, usually in another corner of Christendom – the person with childhood spent among the fundies now attending a liberal mainline church or the former Catholic now a happy member of an Assembly of God – we ache and wonder how a Church who sometimes behaves like a UFC fighter remotely resembles the pure, spotless Bride described here.

I tend to go immediately to the latter. (No surprise if you’ve been a reader of this blog.) In some cases…[Read more]


How can the church better nurture spiritual growth for those in the second half of their lives? I contend that the way we answer that question may well change the way we disciple all of our members.

Certainly cultivating the spiritual disciplines is part of that answer, but it’s important to remember that those practices are not the goal. Christlike maturity is the goal – not just for individuals, but for all of us, corporately. Because we’ve often defaulted to talking about spiritual growth as a cognitive exercise (as if heaven was going to be one eternal Bible Quiz!) or a to-do list, we’ve allowed shallow `n busy programming to suffice when deep and intentional spiritual relationship is what’s needed most. We haven’t always been very good at recognizing and supporting those moving into their second adulthood.

Three years ago, I blogged through Father Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward: A Spirituality Through The Two Halves Of Life. I did so because I hoped that some of my blog readers would find the conversation of value as they interacted with those in their lives – and that some of the leaders (of small groups, Bible studies, or churches) reading in this little corner of Ye Olde Internet might begin asking different questions about how to better serve those in their care.
Another one of those books that offers helpful description for those stumbling into the disorientation of midlife is Sue Monk Kidd’s When The Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction For Life’s Sacred Questions (HarperOne, 1990). [Read more]


As a writer, I spend my days playing with words. This also means I spend too much time – usually when I’m writing a first draft – watching cat videos, rearranging my cabinets, thinking about what to make for dinner, and watching the squirrels re-enact West Side Story outside my window.

When I’m not watching Tony Squirrel woo Maria Squirrel, I do try to pay close attention to how people use words. Language is a living thing. I’m fascinated by the lists of words that have become tired, lazy clichés. The business world loves its motivational bits of jargon. I guarantee that telling your coworkers you’re going to tee up the discussion about switching filter vendors at the wastewater treatment plant will not make your 3:45 p.m. meeting any more exciting.

The sports world loves its clichés. Here’s hoping that your high octane defense will turn up the intensity and dig deep…really deep…so they can play like they’re capable of playing. Or something.

Though I like and use groovy pop culture lingo, sometimes silly fadspeak can make me cray-cray.

I write for the church, and you know we have our own slang-y jargon. A couple of years ago, too many painfully relevant, authentic young pastors dreamed OUT LOUD EVERY STINKIN’ SUNDAY MORNING about making an impact with a smokin’ hot bride at their side. Mercifully, that trend seems to be abating a bit. I thought I’d share a few words or phrases I’ve been hearing a little too frequently at church lately [Read more]



My friend A. was an old hippie who looked a little like Jerry Garcia (the old guy version) with grease under his fingernails. He worked at a body shop by day, and gave his nights and weekends to what he believed was his true calling: a musician who used his gifts as part of his church’s worship team. He spent more than three decades as a rock `n roll version of David during his harp-playing days. He worked hard to stay current when it came to trends in worship music. His skills were stellar, and his childlike, humble joy in what he had to offer to God and others made him a great asset to any team to which he was assigned.

Not very long ago, the leadership team at the church took him aside and asked him to step down from his role because they wanted to have a younger-looking worship team on the platform. They used plenty of spiritual-sounding platitudes (“equipping the next generation”, “reaching families in our community”, “using your gifts in other ways in our body, like being a greeter”), but when he boiled away all the churchy language and looked at the New, Improved version of the worship team, who all happened to be in their early- to mid-thirties, he realized they were telling him he was too old to be in front of the congregation.

I know this is how the business world does it. But since when do those rules apply to the church?

(Rhetorical question.)

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In Search Of Mitford

To The Good People Of Mitford, NC –

You may be classified as fictional characters living in an imaginary place, but after reading all nine books in Jan Karon’s series featuring so many of you during the last two decades, I feel as though I’ve you’ve taken on the status of my second home. I’ve had five addresses since I first met you all when a good friend pressed a just-off-the-press copy of At Home In Mitford (the 1994 Lion Press edition) into my hands. I’ve imagined myself living among y’all: attending The Lord’s Chapel, shopping at The Local, getting bad haircuts (and now, spray tans) at A Cut Above salon, browsing through the poetry books at Happy Endings bookstore, and sampling a half-slice of Esther Bollick’s Orange Marmalade Cake after a funeral. Jan Karon has always seen the best in even the worst of your citizens through the faith and love of Father Tim, a diabetic middle-aged Episcopal priest.

I am not the only one who’s found a home in Mitford, N.C…

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