Small Is the New Big

A Guide for Reflection & Conversation

The articles in this month’s Bearings magazine, “Small Is the New Big,” illuminate questions raised by the realities of small church ministry. In them we read eyewitness accounts of the spiritual energy in churches described as “small”—small that is, when the metric applied is a numerical count of members or weekly worship attendance. The articles invite us to... Read more

Making Peace with Peacemaking

Nick Nagy, “Peacemaking in the Middle” Over the winter break, our editorial assistant, Nick Nagy, took a close look at people of his home state, Indiana, and by association the rest of the Midwest, who, especially since the 2016 election, have been characterized as “hopelessly isolationist and dismally Trumpian.” Nick’s lead-off article in our January issue... Read more

Re-Mediation in the D-I-Y Church

Lately I’ve been thinking about a passage from the Gospel of John in which Jesus reminds Peter that our youthful vigor and self-determination will always fade. “Very truly, I tell you” Jesus says, “when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will... Read more

Close to the Gardens of Broken Shadows

Hope on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time close to the gardens of broken shadows we do what the prisoners do and what the jobless do we cultivate hope. from “Under Siege” by Mahmoud Darwish In God’s garden of broken shadows, facing night and cannons of time, we are commanded to “cultivate hope.” How? How do we dare speak of hope... Read more

Protest Journal

I Repent and Atone With My Feet and Hands

Editorial Note: Throughout September, Bearings magazine will explore the theme of “Cultivating Hope.” This month’s contributors are all people of faith who inhabit different geographic, cultural, and social spaces. They thus offer richly diverse perspectives on the following questions: How are you cultivating hope in today’s current political and cultural climate?... Read more

Listening to the Bittersweet Songs of Summer

Sumer is icumen in. Lhude sing cuckoo! Summer has come in—or so the “Cuckoo Song,” also known as the “Summer Canon,” tells me. The piece, which dates to the 13th century, is the oldest known musical composition to feature six-part polyphony. In other words, it was composed as a round that could feature up to six different voices or groups simultaneously singing... Read more

Crowdfunding Christian Ministry

It’s hardly breaking news that many congregations struggle with financial stewardship. Perhaps there was a time when Christians gave to the church without a second’s thought. In days of yore, giving was considered a duty and solemn obligation, and members reliably filled out pledge cards, doing their part to keep church coffers full. That’s not necessarily the... Read more

The Fearful Church and the Loss of Our Prophetic Voice

In January of 2014, I revealed to the elders of New Heart Community Church that I no longer held to the traditional position on homosexuality that our church had long promoted. After initial conversations for clarity on my position, one of the elders asked, “Are you willing to keep this a secret?” To which I replied, “No.” He was afraid that my position would ultimately... Read more

Embodying Sanctuary

Skin. To learn to be comfortable in one’s skin. To teach our kids—in our families, our youth groups, our churches—to be comfortable in their skin. To teach ourselves how to be comfortable with each others’ skin. Wouldn’t that be an amazing thing? It took me a while to be comfortable in my skin. I have my moments—hours, days, even weeks and months—when I can’t... Read more