The middle-aged man stood before our group of mostly thirty-something congregational lay leaders and announced with the kind of certainty that comes from being a paid, invited consultant, “80% of most congregations are comprised of people with the spiritual gift of helps.”

Our pastoral team had invited him to come to our church in the early 1980′s to help us come up with a way to move forward after the resignation of the leader who’d launched the church during the Jesus Movement during the early 1970′s. The leadership team was wrestling with how to take a church that had formed organically out of a home Bible study and was currently renting space in a nearby school  to a place of stability and maturity in the community. Leadership and organization questions drove our conversations and prayer meetings – as did the specter of an upcoming building program.

No one questioned our paid expert’s bold statistical claim. [Read more]

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Feb

04

2016

On The Move Again

I wish I could say we are following cloud by day, fire by night like our forebears in the Sinai did. My husband and I are seeking God, but our journey lacks a clear destination at this point. All I know is that we are facing another move in the next few weeks.

When we received word that our lender had approved our short sale in 2012, they gave us 10 days to get out of our house. As we didn’t have any idea if or when we’d receive that approval during the months-long wait, we hadn’t looked for a new place to live. We imagined our buyers might be willing to rent back to us for a month or two until we secured a new place to live. We imagined wrong. [Read more]

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Remember when we were gonna not only change the world, but completely rearrange it?

The Jesus Movement was seeded by the Spirit in the soil of the massive social unrest of the 1960′s. Many Boomers who came of age during this era learned that the military-industrial cabal responsible for U.S. involvement in Viet Nam, the Cold War, Agent Orange, and Wonder Bread needed to be dismantled. Young people discovered their voices as they questioned authority in the form of dissent, protest, and in the case of a few extreme groups, domestic terrorism.

For those of us during those years who came to faith in a Jesus even more radical than the radical politics espoused by many of hippie age peers, many of us felt deeply about the war, environment, and the proliferation of nuclear arms. I knew a few believers who moved into left-leaning Mennonite-influenced communal living arrangements founded on non-violence and granola. But for every young Jesus person who made that choice, a hundred more found the spark for their political activism lit by social issues. The sex, drugs, and rock `n roll zeitgeist of the 1960′s crashed head-on into a brand-new wave of Jesus followers who’d repented of it all in order to follow him. The 1973 Roe V. Wade decision by the Supreme Court made abortion legal in this country, and served as a touchpoint for political activism among many of these newly-minted conservative voters. [Read more]

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In a world where many large Protestant churches livestream their services online, where both Catholic and Evangelicals/Charismatics have their own basic cable networks, why show up in person at a local church when you can watch a much slicker version of church on your computer or TV? Why show up at a local church when the “quality” of the worship service may seem like a low-budget version of old school TV talent show Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour and the group dynamics scream middle school instead of radical community defined by the love of Jesus?

Further, the trend toward multi-site churches in the Evangelical world means even if you do show up at a local church, you may be sitting in a room with other people watching at least part of a service on a big screen. [Read more]

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The church we currently attend* offers communion once-a-month-ish during its worship services. If a special event or speaker is slated, communion isn’t offered that month. Though I’ve spent four decades worshipping in mostly Evangelical churches, I’ve never bought in to the idea is a communion once-a-month post-script to the “real” worship service (sung worship, announcements, offering, and sermon). Passover Seders formed my context for communion, and time in Lutheran and Anglican congregations confirmed for me that communion wasn’t an add-on to a worship service, nor was it strictly memorial in essence.

My thoughtful writer friend Dorothy Greco recently posed a question on her Facebook page about which liturgical days or seasons are focused on gratitude. [Read more]

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