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Ministry Beyond Aspiration

Article posted: 12 Sep 2018

Congregations, and the people in them, are well-intended. We sense in our connection with God that there is a purpose to our living that goes beyond how we currently live, that there is a world that is better than the one we live in.  We aspire to that better self and that better world. Our mission statements frequently state our intent to help make our lives, our communities, our world “better” – more aligned with God’s view of what could be.

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Spiritual Formation and Money: Mission, Ministries, and Generosity

Article posted: 11 Sep 2018

For many religious people, their faith and their money live in an uneasy truce with each other. Seldom are we encouraged to see our attitudes about—and actions done with—our money as essential aspects of our spiritual formation as believers.  Our wallets don’t appreciate our faith meddling with their contents, and our faith wants to think of itself as above such gritty worldly issues as money and the way we spend it.

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The Church in Exile: Being a Missionary to the Dominant Culture

Article posted: 11 Sep 2018

A colleague of mine at the seminary where I work recently presented a paper on the places in the world where the church had once been a strong and vibrant entity but, for various reasons, had become extinct within a few short generations. In each case, he pointed out that, at the height of the church’s cultural power, the idea that one day it would cease to exist in those countries would have been utterly unthinkable. Yet it happened.

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Farewell to the Rapture

Article posted: 11 Sep 2018

The  American  obsession  with  the  second  coming of Jesus-  especially  with  distorted interpretations of it- continues unabated.  Seen from my side of the Atlantic, the phenomenal success of the Left Behind books appears puzzling, even bizarre. Few in the U.K. hold the belief on which the popular series of novels is based: that there will be a literal "rapture" in which believers will be snatched up to heaven, leaving empty cars crashing on freeways and kids coming home from school only to find that their parents have been taken to be with Jesus while they have been "left behind." This pseudo-theological version of Home Alone has reportedly frightened many children into some kind of (distorted) faith.

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Things Church Members Should Say to Guests in a Worship Service

Article posted: 21 Nov 2015

One of the more common questions I'm asked relates to growth barriers. For example, church leaders may want to know how to move past the 150-attendance level of the past five years. Or other leaders desire to know how to break though financial giving barriers.

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