Yesterday, as I was driving home from a quick visit to Missouri, my phone began buzzing as news reports came in about another school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The story was far too familiar -- a young man entered the school with a semi-automatic rifle and took the life of (as of today) 18 children … Continue reading We have to do better…
Who or what do you worship?
Last night, we saw the president of the United States stroll across a public park after having both police and military use tear gas and rubber bullets to clear that park of peaceful protestors. There was a curfew at 7 p.m. and it's likely that many in the crowd would have left on their own, … Continue reading Who or what do you worship?
On the third day….
I first met Willie not long after I started working here in Madison. The volunteer receptionist said there was a man at the door who seemed to be in bad shape. I went into the lobby where we meet with folks in need to find a man who was standing behind a walker, barely holding … Continue reading On the third day….
Classes that should be taught in seminaries
I know that everyone's focus is on the Hooey in St. Louey this weekend, but honestly, for most of us, the day to day demands of ministry in the local church easily push those concerns to the back of our minds. Yes, there are big theological and political issues worthy of consideration, but for the … Continue reading Classes that should be taught in seminaries
The Case for Connectionalism
My friend Wes Magruder, pastor of the Kessler Park UMC in Dallas, shared some thoughts this week about how progressive United Methodist congregations might move forward in relation to the "Way Forward" decisions in the UMC. His thoughts were generally positive and worthy of thinking about, but one phrase in the post jumped out at … Continue reading The Case for Connectionalism
The prayer I don’t want to offer…
God of the ages, I don't want to pray this prayer tonight. It's not that I don't want to be with you. I need to hear your voice. I need your comfort. I need to ask "Why?" And I have no problem praying for the wounded, the grieving, and all of us who have been … Continue reading The prayer I don’t want to offer…
It’s Time to Quit Talking About the Church
Everyday as I'm scrolling through my Facebook feed I see all sorts of shared posts about "The 10 Things The Church Needs to do to Survive" or "8 Ways That the Church is Missing the Mark" or countless other stories in the same ilk. I'm not surprised, and in fact I've been as guilty as anyone … Continue reading It’s Time to Quit Talking About the Church
The AA Model of Church
Last night, as is my usual practice, I headed over to the local "8:05 Group" of Alcoholic Anonymous for my weekly does of 12 Step education. For the record, just in case anyone is wondering, I don't have the disease of alcoholism. I understand that God has allowed me the ability to have a beer … Continue reading The AA Model of Church
Who are the real mothers?
I confess that one of the things that has always eluded me is how Mother's Day has become one of the high holy days in the life of the American church. Don't get me wrong . . . I like mothers as much as the next guy. For sure, this year's Mother's Day was a … Continue reading Who are the real mothers?
A United Methodist pastor’s perspective on a pastoral transition
I think most of the world has seen my Facebook post from yesterday in which I announced that I am being appointed to serve as the Sr. Pastor of the City Road Chapel United Methodist Church in Madison, TN. In that statement, I acknowledged that I had thought at the beginning of the week that … Continue reading A United Methodist pastor’s perspective on a pastoral transition
The cross is a liability issue
Not long ago I sat in a worship service listening to another pastor exhort his congregation to service and carrying out the radical call of Christ to love our neighbors. I was sitting there silently cheering him on when all of the sudden he made the following comment: Now before anyone panics, understand that I'm … Continue reading The cross is a liability issue
Looking in from the outside — a pastor visits another church
As most of my Facebook friends know by now, I'm currently in Los Angeles having helped my eldest drive from Nashville to establish a new home. Needing to recover from the drive and needing some time off, I chose to stay over a few extra days to enjoy the sunshine, connect with some old friends, … Continue reading Looking in from the outside — a pastor visits another church
ALL are of Sacred Worth — A pastor’s personal reflections on the things that divide us.
This past week the frailty and humanity of this thing we call the United Methodist Church was put on full display in the media throughout the world. The story was the church's trial of a clergyperson who had disobeyed the official teaching of the church in presiding at the same-sex wedding of his son and his partner. The story was full of things designed to encourage attention in the media -- conflict, sex, religion, family, and legal drama. And the verdict came down quickly -- guilty -- with the strong possibility that this pastor will be removed from ministry.
For some, the trial, verdict, and penalty reaffirmed that the order of the church was firm and in control, and that the traditions held closely to the heart were protected. For others the same things confirmed what they already thought -- that the followers of Jesus aren't really serious about this love thing, and that we are more in love with our rules than with the lives of our neighbors...
12 Steps of Church Transformation: Step 3 — Surrender
We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous One of the interesting things about the 12 steps is the recognition that recognizing our powerlessness and insanity and believing that God has the power to transform us doesn't … Continue reading 12 Steps of Church Transformation: Step 3 — Surrender
12 Steps of Church Transformation: Step 2 — A Power Greater Than Us #2
We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. --12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous-- I left us with a question in the last post: do we REALLY believe in a God who has the power to transform the church? To quote Bishop Vashti McKenzie, "...if so, why don't we … Continue reading 12 Steps of Church Transformation: Step 2 — A Power Greater Than Us #2
12 Steps of Church Transformation: Step 2 — A Power Greater Than Us #1
We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. --12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous-- So far, the 12 steps have asked us to admit that we are powerless to effect change and manage our churches and denominations. But the 12 step model goes even further, suggesting that our problems … Continue reading 12 Steps of Church Transformation: Step 2 — A Power Greater Than Us #1
A bit more on powerlessness and leadership
One of the things that we church people have done these days is to revere the culture of competence. We have taken the call to be a community of broken individuals working toward wholeness and transformed it into a product to the sold to the highest bidder; a commodity to appeal to the masses. This … Continue reading A bit more on powerlessness and leadership
The 12 Steps of Church Change: Step 1 — Powerlessness
We admitted we were powerless...that our lives had become unmanageable. --12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous I don't know about you, but as the pastor of a traditional, historic, aging, church that has been in numeric decline for some years now, it's time for me to come to terms with the powerlessness I feel in regards … Continue reading The 12 Steps of Church Change: Step 1 — Powerlessness
The 12 Steps of Congregational Change — Setting the Stage
About a year and a half ago, a new member to our church community came with a request. He shared that he and his wife were recovering alcoholics, and that they were dedicated adherents to the AA 12 Step Movement, attending meetings almost every night. He noted that there were no meetings in our immediate … Continue reading The 12 Steps of Congregational Change — Setting the Stage
A Prayer for Memorial Day
Prayed at the May 27, 2013 Old Hickory Memoial Day Observance God of us all, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, we gather this morning as a community, friends, neighbors, citizens together of your world and our nation. We gather to remember in a special way those who have sacrificed their lives in war. We lift up … Continue reading A Prayer for Memorial Day