Contributor: Maxwell Grant

The Rev. Maxwell Grant is the Senior Minister of the Second Congregational Church of Greenwich, Connecticut.  He is a 2006 graduate of Yale Divinity School, where he was awarded the Mersick Prize for Preaching. He has also served as Pediatric Chaplain at Yale New-Haven Hospital and as the School Minister at Collegiate School in New York City. You can find him on Twitter @maxgrantmg, and he blogs at

Out with the Old, In with the New? Not So Fast!

Revitalizing the Work of the People

Our church has three regular worship services a week.   Two of them are in our smaller chapel space, have minimalist bulletins in lower case letters, pastors on barstools using iPads, Communion bread from the pop-up gluten-free bakery down the street, guitars and keyboards. The other service is your father’s Oldsmobile: it features a pastor in a robe with... Read more

Singing the Past into the Future

Evensong as the Voice of Faithful Becoming

On a recent Saturday around sunset, a group of 40 people gathered in the chapel of our suburban Connecticut “tall steeple church” for “Evensong,” a weekly contemporary Christian service we have offered since September. Imagined and led by our associate pastor, it is the kind of service that is flourishing in many other churches throughout the country—more informal,... Read more

Growing Up as a Church When Our Young Adults Leave

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.” We stepped into the church kitchen. We had a problem. Our... Read more

The Institutional Church Takes Its Place at Table 61

Three years ago, one of the saints of our congregation decided it was time to move into a local senior living facility. Her husband had died the previous year. She liked the idea of her son and his family filling the house—which felt too big for one—with the coming and going of kids again. She was just plain ready for a change. And the new place was fifteen minutes... Read more

Re-Imagining the Story: Can the Mainline Church Put Away Childish Things?

Elizabeth Drescher’s recent piece on “Bearings” asks the question: “What if we had the next great awakening . . . and everybody slept in?” As a church pastor, I’m beginning to wonder that, myself. There are times when being a mainline church pastor feels like being Sheriff Woody from the “Toy Story” movies—adventurous in ways good and bad, called to orchestrate... Read more

What if the Pastor Can’t Do It All? Maybe That’s a Good Thing

In the beginning, there wasn’t even coffee . . . So began life with my first congregation—a part-time call to a congregation rattling around an enormous building with wrinkled carpet in the sanctuary and cracked linoleum pretty much everywhere else. They were running out of members, money and, frankly, energy. So much so that they had even stopped serving coffee... Read more

‘Slow Activism’: Organizing to the Tune of a Different Piper

This fall, I am looking at the work of my church through a different framework. It began over the summer at the monthly meeting of our local clergy association, when I began learning about the difference between community activism and community organizing. Do you know the difference? I didn’t.   Basically, activism is focused on raising awareness on a particular... Read more