What Does it Mean to Be the Church?

  In this little church building, the German Christians could hear the sound of Jewish people on those trains. They could hear the train whistle as it would begin to approach, immediately followed by men and women screaming for help as they went barreling toward a Nazi death camp…


Pastors and congregations need to remember this. In fact, I think congregations should give their pastors one extra Sunday off each year to visit a church where they are not known so they can remember what this experience is like. In post-Christendom there are no social or cultural benefits or incentives for church attendance…

When is it Time to Find a New Church?

I don’t feel like I belong there anymore, but I also don’t want to just stop showing up, since I’ve been an active member for several years. How do I know if it’s time to start looking for a new church or if I should stick it out?…  

5 Reasons to Keep the Organ in Worship

When I was growing up in a Baptist church, pipe organs were on their way out. In fact, the church I attended never even had one, and they unceremoniously trashed their weak electronic number over 25 years ago in favor of a succession of latest and greatest synthesizers. These days, their numbers have dwindled among Catholic and mainline Protestant congregations, and are close to extinction in evangelical circles[…]

9 Ways to Be a Better Neighbor

Being urbanized means we have lots of neighbors, but being transitory makes it feel like a waste of time to get to know them. Yet neighborliness is a good thing for its own sake[…]

3 Ways the Church Can Build Better Community

After prayer, a thirtysomething lady stepped to the front of the room, asked for visitors to remain seated and announced: “Go and greet these new people and make them feel welcome!” Everyone started moving and talking and shaking hands and laughing, but they didn’t come my direction. I sat there like a lump as people walked past me to the coffee kiosk in the back. One older lady smiled briefly at me and then hurried on. I felt crushed…

What I Wish I Knew When I Started in Youth Ministry These are my reflections after 22+ years of working with teenagers, churches, families and volunteers.    I didn’t go to seminary, but I’ve been in the trenches and figured some stuff out as I went along… One of the things that I have appreciated over the years, is the show is genuinely committed to the idea of civic responsibility. It actually has some important things about how one does his or her job and the idea of service. So to celebrate one of my favorite television shows ever, here are ten things that the Church could learn from Parks and Rec […]

Why Lent Still Matters   The first time I observed Lent over 10 years ago, I attended an Ash Wednesday service. Ashes were applied to my head and words were spoken over me, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” I learned in a new way that I am a mere mortal, and at same time created in the image of God  […]

Karaoke and Saving Lives There was one guy wearing dress pants and a dress shirt who had been in and out the venue all night. I figured he was a friend of a friend that had heard about how wildly great karaoke is at this place and decided to check it out, but he never danced or sang. At the end of the night, my friend asked if he wanted to sing something before they shut it down. At this point it was just me, my two friends who manage the venue and the DJ. The man declined, creating a long awkward pause…
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