Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A little consternation...

I'm a big fan of divine discontent. It awakens congregations to a better understanding of their vision, a deeper commitment to building community, and making a real difference in the lives of so many.

This restlessness is one of the reasons I have hope for congregations, and why I like working with them.

William Avery, Revitalizing Congregations

Friday, October 22, 2010

Where does a church vision come from?

The children of Israel's forty years in the desert offered the world its first church mission, vision, and values discernment process. A generation wandered around and died in the wilderness, running from its past and scared of its future. I have led plenty of navel-gazing processes in churches, and have observed the same dynamic.

What I have learned is this. Vision does not descend on groups; it usually comes to individuals and then is confirmed by groups. Churches that have good leaders and an urgency about their mission will sail to the stars. Churches that are paralyzed will gain nothing by self-study. They will just use the self-study as a stalling tactic.

Paul Nixon, I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church

Friday, October 15, 2010

A way of life...

How we work and how we spend our money are dangerous matters to consider. Were we to think deeply about these issues, we might actually have to change the way we live. We believe it is immoral to be greedy. We say it's immoral to live high on the hog when others are starving.

But another part of us has been trained to consider these matters as "preferences," not profound religious issues. Because they fall into the economic compartment of our lives, we tell ourselves that we have the right to make whatever choices we want. As long as we don't blatantly lie, cheat, or steal, it makes no difference how we work or what we buy.

Robert Wuthnow, The Crisis in the Churches: Spiritual Malaise, Fiscal Woe

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Empty seats...

Since 2001, Sunday worship attendance in mainline faiths and Catholicism has seen a steady decline. The only deviation is churches that attract 1,000 or
more on Sunday mornings.

Trends include people coming to church less frequently, an aging church population, and a growing lack of interest in religion. The group that has grown the fastest are those who never attend church. Findings of the survey indicate an "erosion of vitality" in many congregations.

Note: My own question is how to make one of the world's most engaging subjects so utterly lifeless.

David Roozen, from the study, Faith Communities Today

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Most Americans now spend more than eight hours a day looking at a television, a computer monitor, or the screens of their electronic devices. According to author Nicholas Carr, 'Having external access to data is a far cry from having a richly furnished mind."

Episcopal minister Barbara Brown Taylor, a faculty member who teaches undergraduate students, does not bemoan the existence of electronic media, but she does believe that young people have lost the freedom to decide when they should or should not be online, a form of electronic bondage.

It seems to me there's a spiritual issue involved here somewhere.

Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains

Monday, October 4, 2010

Formation, not education...

One of the most powerful tools of formation is the small group. In such groups, people seek the formation and transformation of other people. Transformation - seeking new lives and behavior - is what they are all about.

The church in a new time has a lot to learn from small groups. In this era, a kind of bland and generalized friendliness seemed adequate for many. But today people seek, and formation requires, something more intentional, something with a greater depth of intimacy and honesty, in which people are held accountable for their actions.

Anthony Robinson, Transforming Congregational Culture