Bearings

Navigating Life-as-Ministry

A Community of Makers

The Changing Face of Clergy Collegiality

I must confess that I have been a less-than-dutiful clergy colleague. In Lutheran polity, congregations are organized in small geographic clusters called conferences, and their clergy gather for monthly meetings for mutual support and, oftentimes, text studies. Good times, right? Although it has been over three years since I took my new call, I still… Read More

Loving in Public

Why I Won't Stop Talking About Racial Justice

On December 29, 2015, my 14th wedding anniversary, I spent most of the day researching and thinking about the death of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old African-American boy gunned down by the police in Cleveland, Ohio. His murder had happened a little over a year earlier. Yet my shock, outrage, and grief over his death linger… Read More

Life As Art

[Editor’s Note: We are pleased to introduce you to the work of Troy Bronsink, who will serve as the keynote speaker and moderator at The BTS Center’s annual January convocation. This year, the theme of Convocation 2016 is “Life as Art: Design Thinking and Mindfulness for Integrating Life and Ministry.” In the following piece, Troy offers a preview… Read More

A Christmas Story for a Political Season

It’s December, and we have entered the season of narrative. Around the globe, adorable children in Sunday School classrooms are presenting nativity pageants in hundreds of different languages. They don headgear cut from bedsheets and cardboard-and-aluminum angels’ wings. Nervous but excited, they anxiously watch for their pageant directors’ cues . . . and then, when… Read More

Gratitude

A Photographic Essay

Editor’s Introduction: Sometimes, words do not suffice—and yet, during a week marked by horrific bombings in Paris and Beirut and wrenching debates over welcoming refugees from Iraq and Syria to our shores, we have been bombarded by them. Words flowing out of the mouths of television analysts. Words marching across the pages of newspapers and newsmagazines. Words scrolling… Read More

Who Has The Right to Be Violent?

In July I was invited to speak about the #BaltimoreUprising at the Duke Summer Institute for Reconciliation. My presentation focused on “Why We Cry, How We Cry and Who Can Cry?” in response to state violence. “Why We Cry” dealt with the systemic and structural violence in Baltimore City—the years of neglect, disinvestment and underdevelopment.… Read More

Back to the Future of Religion

Does Demographic Research Create the Religious "Reality" It Describes?

If you somehow managed to Marty McFly yourself back to the High Middle Ages—the epoch of Christendom influence in the pre-Reformation West—you’d likely catch a glimpse of the future of faith even as you regarded the sights, sounds, and (alas) smells of its glorious past. And if you happened to be a researcher from the… Read More

Addicted to Certainty

It was the third and final night of our church’s annual revival and, despite the guest evangelist’s renowned theatrics, the prospect of disappointment loomed over the event like a dark cloud. The previous two nights had produced only a single convert—the seven-year-old son of one of our deacons, who’d walked the aisle, tears staining his… Read More

Our Savior of the Soccer Pitch

Like many young families, our weekends in the fall are busy with soccer. We have four kids on three different teams. That means three practices and three games each week, mostly clustered on Friday night and Saturday morning. While the schedule is hectic, we love to see our kids play, and we track their progress… Read More

Rethinking Church, Communally and Creatively

I spend a curious amount of time discussing, studying, and writing about polity—the structures and procedures of congregational/denominational governance. As other theologians and sociologists of religion speculate about the decline, revival, or re-emergence of Christianity and the church, I focus on how emerging congregations organize themselves and structure their decision-making processes. As a “body”—ecclesial, social,… Read More

The Bible in One Hand, Beer in the Other

How to Make Oktoberfest Holy

Autumn is the best season. I love it all: gorgeous leaves, crisp temperatures, flannel fresh from the closet, and, if you’re into that sort of thing, pumpkin spice lattes. There’s so much to love this time of year, but my absolute favorite marker of the season is Oktoberfest beer. A few weeks ago, when I… Read More

Beyond Reconciliation

Race, Religion, and Reparations in the White Church

“Justice is what love looks like in public.”—Cornel West The #BlackLivesMatter movement (#BLM) has captured the attention of the nation. From the streets of Ferguson, New York, Cleveland, and Baltimore to the stages of Republican primary debates and the political platforms of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the movement has informed and shaped a national… Read More