Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hipster church...

One of the most popular, and most unseemly, methods of making Christianity hip is to make it shocking. Oak Leaf Church in Georgia has a website, www.yourgreatsexlife.com. Mark Driscoll at Seattle's Mars Hill Church delivers sermons titled, "Biblical Oral Sex," and "Pleasuring Your Partner."

If young people are interested in Christianity of any sort
in a serious way, it is not because it's easy or trendy. It's because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It's because the world that young people inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed, and sex-drenched - and we want an alternative. It's not because we want more of the same.

Brett McCracken, Hipster Christianity: Where Church and Cool Collide

Monday, August 30, 2010

An extraordinary feat...

I just returned from Charlotte, NC, where I led
a one-day event on congregations of the future. Among those attending were members of the Myers Park Presbyterian Church, which has grown to some 5,000 members.

The church recently completed a $30 million capital campaign. It gave away $12 million to outreach and mission, 40 percent of the total. I asked members if there was a lot of arm-twisting to do this. They replied, "No. Our pastor, Steve Eason, thought it was the right thing to do, and we agreed."

Eason's message on the church website includes the statement, "Our church is all over the place. We startle people with acts of generosity."

Friday, August 20, 2010

A danger to your religion...

The board of trustees was in a heated debate about chili mac, a strange casserole that dares to cross macaroni and cheese with canned chili and call it food. Do we get large cans of chili or small? Does anyone have a membership to a discount warehouse? Should we buy grated cheese or grate it ourselves, because the homeless shelter does not have a cheese grater. Let's do a cost comparison.

It has now been 51 minutes. I am losing my religion. As they are nearing a decision, a new board member says, "Why do we always make chili mac? People said they were tired of it." The clerk then says, "Did we decide to buy grated cheese or purchase a cheese grater? I need this for the minutes."

For this I spent three years in graduate school.

Lillian Daniel, This Odd and Wondrous Calling

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A really great guy...

The National Study of Youth and Religion discovered that teenagers tend to think that a God exists who created the world and watches over life on earth. God also wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other.

They believe that the central goal of life is to be happy and feel good about yourself, and that God need not be involved except when needed to solve a problem.

Kenad Creasy Dean, The Christian Century, August 10, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Country club church?

It seems to me that the church I was trained to expect was some sort of cocky, country-club fortress that needed to be taken down a peg or two. We, the new ministers, would come flying in like Underdog, armed with new hymnals, new language, and new ideas, inspired by professors who were still passionately processing their two years in ministry fifteen years ago.

The church I was trained to expect was a church that needed fixing, not in its weakness, but in its hubris.

Lillian Daniel, This Odd and Wondrous Calling

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The quiet church?

"More than ever, we need voices of reason and deep spirituality. The voices of intolerance and hatred are too loud."

United Church of Christ president Geoffrey Black

My observation: churches on the progressive end of the theological spectrum rarely take stands on issues of the day. The reason is often to preserve congregational harmony. But I wonder if this relegates those needed voices of reason to the sidelines, as spectators, while others are on the playing field where the action is.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Packing for church...

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana signed a bill that will allow people to carry concealed handguns to church. The new law is the opposite of a previous law that banned concealed weapons inside churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship; but it does allow churches to choose whether to permit guns inside their facilities.

The new law requires pastors who allow concealed weapons to announce to worshipers that there might be gun-toters among them in the pews. Ah, life in the U.S. of A.

A whole new era...

The megachurch has completely changed the face of congregational life. Megachurches are becoming de facto replacements for denominations and seminaries, by providing resources and training staff more efficiently.

Megachurch leaders can find resources for adult education, youth programs, and hire experienced, successful pastors without ever needing a denomination or seminary and the baggage of such hierarchical structures.

Scott Thumma, Hartford Seminary, Connecticut