Bearings

Navigating Life-as-Ministry

Advent’s Invitation to Incarnational Imagination

“The poet knows that the human experience of the sacred is awash in the particularity of things, the sensuous surface and ambient array of details that make possible any sense of dwelling in the presence of mystery.” – Belden Lane It’s Christmas morning, 1981, and I’m seven years old. I wake up early and fly… Read More

Church for the Like-Minded Only? Won’t Get My Vote.

Several times this fall, my local university has announced which of the university’s colors fans should wear to the Saturday football game. Remarkably, the word gets out and nearly an entire stadium dons the same color clothing. One week it’s yellow. Later, green. Most recently, white. I’ve noticed a similar trend elsewhere. First, there were… Read More

Who Do You Say that You Are? The Stories of Spiritual Selves in the Postmodern, Postchristian World

There’s discouraging news again this month in my Episcopal denomination. No, not feuding seminary faculty and administrators—though that is truly awful—but another report of declining membership. Earlier this year, the Presbyterian Church (USA) reported similar membership losses. You can find the same sort of data on the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the United… Read More

The Paradox of Congregations Becoming: Discerning 21st Century Ministries

Engaging the challenges and opportunities of 21st century ministry means navigating the paradox of continuity and change. You can see this paradox in phrases like “ancient-future church,” the Kingdom “now and not yet,” and so on. While this paradox is part of Christian faith for anyone, for 21st century church leaders it is essential to… Read More

Scriptural Scordatura—Playing the Bible a Little Off Key

Scordatura refers to tuning patterns for the open strings of violins and cellos that differ from the normally accepted tuning pattern of the notes G, D, A, and E. In Italian the word means “mistuned” or “out of tune,” and the connotation is carried into English where these alternative tunings are sometimes described as “abnormal.”… Read More

Mapping the 21st Century Ministry Landscape

As a kid, I loved making maps. When I was around eight years old, I would ride around our neighborhood for hours on my bike, cruising the sidewalks, streets, alleyways, and dirt trails that connected and intersected the townhomes in our development. When I came home I would record the pathways I discovered on a… Read More

Navigating Life-as-Ministry

BEARINGS (noun): comprehension of one’s position, environment, or situation. Welcome to BEARINGS, a blog space featuring local, regional, and national 21st century ministry thought leaders and thoughtful practitioners. In BEARINGS posts, diverse voices will offer commentary and insights on how ministry is changing today and share stories of inspiring networked, relational, and incarnational ministries. The… Read More

Sharing the Load in 21st-Century Ministry

When we were brainstorming names for the new blog for The BTS Center blog, we agreed quickly that something related to the real, geographical landscapes and cultural nuances of ministry in the 21st century was important. The BTS Center is a Maine native, and its immediate network is in Northern New England. Though the Center’s… Read More