Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No time to waste...

Busy. A horrible word. It suggests a spiritual disease. A bore is someone who remarks how busy he is and with what activities. I think "busy" means being egotistic and arrogant - believing the world needs me so much. It means being inhospitable:
I regale you with how much work your presence demands of me, how intrusive you are.

I play God. I imply that you are less important if you are less busy. It's hard to expunge "busy" from the vocabulary, but it helps to remember its use is offensive.

Martin E. Marty, Lovers' Quarrels and Casserole Theology

Slow going...

Traditional churches are in the business of raising tortoises. Whenever a tortoise is elected to the Official Board, one can be assured that everything will take time, and that several redundant levels of management will revisit decisions numerous times.

Tortoises are methodical, dutiful, and persistent, but they will never go faster than the oldest member.

Thomas A. Bandy, Christian Chaos

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jewish wedding?

My only daughter was recently married, and she enthusiastically agreed to be married by a rabbi who is close to our family. Every minister should have a rabbi friend. When he read Psalm 100, originally thought to be composed for a wedding, he spoke each line in flawless Hebrew, then translated the blessings into English. The sound of it was remarkable, as if the ancients were also present in the room.

Having a rabbi bless this sacred covenant struck me as preferable to taking a chance that some preacher might make a joke about the odds of a successful marriage or, worse, launch into a diatribe against the evils of fornication.

Red-state UCC Minister Robin Meyers

I dedicate this book to all the men and women who have chosen parish ministry as their life's work, and do not yet wish to be considered harmless artifacts from another age. May all those who labor in the most misunderstood, dangerous, and sublime of all professions be inspired by the possibility that one's head and one's heart can be equal partners in faith.

Lest the church end up a museum piece whose clergy are affable but laughable cartoons, we must once again dedicate ourselves to this wild calling - one that led us away from more comfortable lives and into the only profession where radical truth-telling is part of the job description.

May we fear no man (sic) and no creed, save our own timidity, and may we encourage and support one another in pursuit of religion that is biblically responsible, intellectually honest, emotionally satisfying, and socially significant.

Robin R. Myers, Saving Jesus from the Church

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Our common lot?

We've all been there. We struggle with unanswered prayer. We identify with the old spiritual, "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen." The old landmarks seem to have slipped away. We worry about job security, terrorism, or health care. We wonder if we can pay the mortgage.

Sometimes our prayers stick in our throats and the psalmist's lament becomes our own: "Has his steadfast love ceased forever?" "Are his promises at an end?" This is the street where most of us live.

Rev. Roger Lovett, Reflections on the Lectionary, The Christian Century, June 15, 2010.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Camera, Action!

I recently attended a Coming of Age ceremony that was part of the Sunday morning service. This particular service included teenagers who had completed a year-long class, and were being welcomed as members into the church.

I wish the minister had said there would be ample time for photos after the service. Instead, family members in the pews turned into the equivalent of church-going paparazzi, crowding one another out with their flash cameras and video cameras, straining to get the best camera angle. It was a circus, instead of a meaningful religious occasion.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Home grown...

The emergence of ministers from within their own congregations will increase. Rather than seek seminary-trained leaders, more and more churches are calling committed laypersons from within their own ranks to fill ministry positions.

If additional education and training is needed, the congregation arranges for it. The person's connection and commitment to the congregation is more highly valued than education and experience.

Prediction from Thom Ranier, president of LifeWay Christian Resources

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Clergy blues?

I've seen frequent references in church literature that ministers say they probably would not be members of the congregations they serve.
I wonder why this is the case, and how many ministers feel this way.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Well prepared...

A friend of mine belongs to a theologically conservative church. The minister preaches from the Lectionary and his sermons are scripturally-based, though they do contain lessons for daily living. Using this guide, he prepares sermons weeks and sometimes months in advance. If he's not able to be at church, a deacon reads his sermons. Now there is one man who thinks ahead.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Everyone at our church is happy with how things are going now. Why should we bother trying to identify a distinctive approach to ministry?

Perhaps it's because your congregation is simply drifting year by year without any concern about an intentionally defined role, or any pressure to sharpen the congregation's identity. This applies to many congregations, especially those with an earned sense of well-being and complacency.

Lyle Schaller, Choices for Churches

Friday, June 4, 2010


I attended services at a large congregation recently. In the section where I was seated, the collection plate was passed along by about 50 people before it reached me. When it did, the plate contained a lone one-dollar bill and some spare change.

This reflects very poorly on a congregation. As a visitor, it made me doubt whether I would want to be part of this church. I urge congregations of all faiths and all sizes to give away the Sunday offering to mission and outreach every Sunday. This is a powerful ministry. Do not let anyone claim your church can't afford it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Why I stopped going to baseball games...

Every time I went, they asked me for money. The people in the stands didn't seem very friendly. The umpire made some decisions with which I disagreed. Some games went into extra innings, and I was late getting home. They played on weekends, when I rest.

The seats were uncomfortable. The organist played tunes I didn't like. My parents made me go to games when I was a child. I read a book about baseball and know as much as the managers. I shouldn't take my children; when they grow up, they can decide for themselves if they like the sport.

Rev. David Blanchard, in his church newsletter column.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


In many long-established congregations, several members of the governing board often define their primary responsibility as telling other people what they cannot do. An alternative to most either-or questions should be, "Why can't we do both?"

Another possibility is preface questions with, "Unless someone objects strongly, this is our plan." Yet another is not to ask for "no" votes. Finally, another method of moving ahead is to claim,"We cannot make an informed decision on this until we've had at least six month's experience with it."

Lyle Schaller, Choices for Churches