God is Not a Boy’s Name

On the evening of our first dinner church gathering, my then three-year-old daughter sat on the sidewalk in front of our banner that read, “God is not a boy’s name.” The picture struck a chord and continues to circulate on social media, in part because she is a happy, adorable little girl and also because her presence along with those words offers a bold theological... Read more

Leadership, Failure & the Cost of Spiritual Entrepreneurship

This summer I spent some time with a group of (mostly) young people involved in a virtual reality start-up. Some of them are serial innovators, having been a part of more than one successful endeavor. As a minister, spiritual entrepreneur, and organizing pastor of a new congregation, I was eager to hear their wisdom about what it takes to make seemingly wild possibilities... Read more

“Toy Story” Redux: Sparking Joy is the Church’s Sequel

There’s been a resurgence of analysis of religious life in the United States appearing in waves of commentary on recent Pew study findings. In the midst of all this, an observation from United Methodist bishop Kenneth Carter, Jr. captured my attention: We should also note that the growth of unaffiliated has been shaped by the relentless critique of the church... Read more

Self-Giving God, Self-Giving Church: Letting Go of the Church into the Love of God

Each year as Holy Week comes upon us again, we have another opportunity to be formed by the stories and practices of death and resurrection. Our formation this year depends on what’s happening right now in our minds and hearts, church and world. Several current conversations in my church are shaping the way I take in the Holy Week texts this year. First of all,... Read more

Tourism and Toys: Playing with a Reformation Legacy

It’s a difficult thing to bear the burden of a legacy. Even more so when it comes to traditions of faith. “What would our Patron Theological Figure do?” we may ask. Or perhaps we mentally transport ourselves back to some imagined Golden Era when our tradition seemed to have found itself in God’s holy favor. Often we end up sounding like the psalmist—“For a day... Read more

Feeling Our Way Back to Center: A Novice Potter on the Ancient Art of Reshaping 21st-Century Church

This fall I began studying pottery-making. Every Thursday night I drive to a studio about 30 miles from the town where I serve as a United Methodist pastor to sit at a pottery wheel and learn how to throw pieces of art. It all begins with a lump of formless clay that gets worse before it will get better. After cutting it off of a block, I have to knead the clay... 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 hold both sides of the paradox... Read more
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