Bearings

Navigating Life-as-Ministry

Growing Up as a Church When Our Young Adults Leave

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Toward the end of Coffee Hour on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend—a light day, as they go—I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was our usually unflappable church Music Director, looking, well, flapped. “Got a minute?” he said in the “up tone” that in church staff speak means, “Houston, we have a problem.”… Read More

Conversation Starter

Moving Into Year Three of Getting Our Bearings by Sharing Our Stories

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As we ease into our third year of publication of The BTS Center’s award-winning blog, Bearings, co-editors Elizabeth Drescher and Alyssa Lodewick have been mulling the role of outlets like ours in shaping what the Church is becoming in a dynamic religious landscape. We’re excited to continue what we see as a multi-dimensional dialogue that… Read More

Looking Back on Bearings

A Retrospective on the Blog's Second Year

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Perhaps because I have spent so many years of my life in school and church settings, I relish these last few weeks of August. Sure, classes may be starting in educational institutions across the nation, but in my mind, “academic summer”—with its more luxurious, relaxed pace—won’t officially end until after Labor Day, when vacations come… Read More

Gotta Catch ’em All

Six Websites Not to Miss This Summer

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On July 7th I thought it had finally happened—the long foretold Zombie Apocalypse. On that day people were walking around my neighborhood, and even my church, shuffling their feet, eyes cast down at their smartphones, turning around aimlessly in circles and pointing at seemingly nothing. Before I could pack up my zombie survival kit and… Read More

Fresh Catch of Summer Reading—Heat Wave Edition

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This isn’t, as summers go, an easy one. With ongoing waves of gun violence roiling the nation and two presidential nominating conventions more likely—to mix metaphors—to turn up the heat than to calm the waters, an escapist junket into banal beach reading might seem a reasonable tonic. But that hardly seems to be the direction… Read More

Putting a Comma at the End of a Bearings Year of Calling Out the Beautiful, the Bodacious, and the B*llsh*t

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Gertrude and Lloyd were members of a church I served for 25 years. They were both in their 80s, and though they made it to Sunday worship once in a while, they were part of that catch-all category of “shut-ins” who received pastoral visits from time to time. During one of those afternoon visits, Gertrude… Read More

Theology in Living Color

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Recently, I was at a missions event at a conservative Christian university. There, I met a white missionary who had been working in India. As we talked, he spoke patronizingly of the Hindu temple and the many gods displayed. So I took out my phone and Tweeted: An important goal of evangelical mission work is to share the gospel and to win the… Read More

Searching for Sanctuary after #Orlando

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Like many Americans, I still am reeling from last Sunday’s shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. I am haunted by the death and destruction that separated 2 AM’s celebratory last call from 5 AM’s bloody wakeup call. Three hours. 180 minutes. Forty-nine individuals murdered, and more than 50 wounded. Most of the men and women terrorized… Read More

Jesus, The Jerk

Making Sense of the Times Jesus Wasn't Very Christlike

Christ and the Canaanite Woman; Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 - 1669); about 1650; Pen and brown ink, brown wash, corrected with white gouache; 20 × 27.9 cm (7 7/8 × 11 in.); 83.GG.199

Jesus could be a real jerk sometimes. I’m not referring here to the times he got angry (John 2:13-17), cynical (Matthew 21:18-22), or sarcastic (Mark 12:18-27) with people. I’m talking about the times Jesus was just plain mean to them. Case in point: the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15. You remember the story. After months… Read More